Steve Jobs ‘really cared about’ rubber-band scrolling on iOS

Ashleigh Allsopp
8 August, 2012
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The Apple v Samsung battle wages on, as the two companies fight in court over the design of their mobile devices. Although the focus of the lawsuit has been mainly on the hardware design and the grid layout for icons, Apple is also trying to protect patents that cover the way the user interacts with the mobile operating system.

Networkworld’s Yoni Heisler reports that during the trial last week, Apple’s Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall said that team came up with the idea of the double tap to zoom on the iPhone because he was always pinching and zooming to try and make the page look “just right”. Forstall believes that the tap to zoom feature is a significant one. “It allowed me to browse the web much more fluently,” he said.

Heisler investigated further into court documents from a few months back, and found that the rubber-band effect as described in 381’ patent was something that Steve Jobs particularly cared about.

During his appearance at the All Things D conference in 2010, Apple’s late co-founder said: “I asked our people about it [a tablet], and six months later they came back with this amazing display. And I gave it to one of our really brilliant UI guys. He got [rubber band] scrolling working and some other things, and I thought, ‘My God, we can build a phone with this.’ So we put the tablet aside and we went to work on the iPhone.”

This reveals that Jobs was so impressed by the rubber band effect that it prompted him to make the decision to abandon the tablet and build an iPhone instead.

During the Apple vs Samsung court case, when asked by Samsung’s attorney, “What was specifically discussed about the rubber-banding patent that you remember?” Forstall replied: “I don’t remember specifics. I think it was just one of the things that Steve said. Here’s something we invented. Don’t – don’t copy it. Don’t steal it.”

According to Apple’s former Chief patent lawyer Richard Lutton, Steve Jobs contacted Samsung to discuss his concerns with Samsung’s allegedly infringing products. Jobs apparently approached Samsung himself, because he wanted to give the company “a chance to do the right thing.”

“Rubber banding is one of the sort of key things for the fluidity of the iPhone – and all of iOS, and so I know it was one of the ones that Steve really cared about,” Forstall continued. “I actually think that Android had not done rubber banding at some point and it was actually added later. So they actually went from sort of, you know, not yet copying and infringing to – to choosing to copy, which is sad and distasteful.”

“But I can’t give you a specific recollection of – of Steve, you know going over rubber banding with – with them [Samsung] in those meetings or not,” said Fortstall. “I expect it came up, because it’s one of the key things we talked – you know, he and I talked about, but I don’t know if it came up there.”

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