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Apple Designer Greg Christie on "Unlocking" Software for the First iPhone

At one point Apple wanted to have the iPhone screen always on and ready at a touch.


At one point early in the iPhone’s development, Apple wanted to have the device’s screen always on and ready at the touch of the screen. But, that soon became impractical.

“We couldn’t meet our power requirements if we had that active a state,” Apple human-interface head Greg Christie said on Friday, testifying at the Apple-Samsung patent trial. “We had to resort to a power button.”

The company was also worried about the phone sending inadvertent emails or “pocket dialing.”

“We knew we had to have a locked mode, or a locked state, where it wouldn’t let you do most things, except you could unlock it,” Christie said.

Christie and his team then worked on a solution, eventually settling on the slide-to-unlock mechanism that shipped on the iPhone and is among the patented features at issue in the case. Apple is seeking more than $2 billion in damages, alleging various Samsung phones and tablets infringe on five Apple patents, including the one over the lock screen.

Asked whether this was an important feature, Christie testified that it was, given it was the first thing a customer would see, whether at the store considering a purchase or at home after buying one.

Apple is trying to make the case that the features and patents at issue in the case are valuable ones worth significant damage awards, while Samsung has sought to show that at most they are a few among hundreds of patents and not worthy of a large damage award, if any damages are due.

During cross examination of Apple marketing executive Phil Schiller on Friday, Samsung introduced various press releases from Apple touting the inclusions of hundreds of new features in various updates to the iPhone.

Samsung also maintains that its products don’t infringe on the patents and that Apple’s patents should not have been granted in the first place.

While the first Apple-Samsung trial brought a peek at how the first iPhone’s hardware was designed, the current trial is offering an interesting glimpse at how Apple created the phone’s software.

This article originally appeared on

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