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Google Beats Apple to a Design Innovation: Curved Glass

May 23 2011, 1:55pm CDT | by , in News | Apple

Google Beats Apple to a Design Innovation: Curved Glass

'Contour display' is already taken.

Today is one for the history books, everybody. Rumor has it Apple is eyeing a curved glass display for the iPhone 5. The Cupertino-based company is believed to have purchased several hundred glass cutting machines themselves. While the new glass may not be out in time for the iPhone 4S, it is expected for the iPhone 5 release next year.

I'm not sure how much stock I'd give the second part of that rumor. We've heard a lot about delays and potential names for the next iPhone, none of it substantiated. But the curved glass rumor itself seems sound. Google already pioneered this technology first with that "contour display" on the Nexus S. And now, for what may be the first time, Apple is taking a design cue from the Google team.

It isn't hard to see why. The contour display is a small change that has a big impact on how a phone feels to use. The Nexus S is more comfortable on your head during a call than any other handset I've used. And, I have it on good authority, they aren't set off by your cheek nearly as frequently.

Android fans might be tempted to see this as a changing of the guard- Apple losing their lead in ground-breaking design. I prefer to see it as a sign that the smartphone category has matured beyond the "bad old days" when only iOS handsets were worth using. There are a LOT of players in this market, and it would be a sad thing indeed if Apple was the only one changing the game.

I'll be interested to see what Apple names this "new" innovation, and how their curved screen patent differs from the one Samsung filed. If I know my Apple product announcements, Steve ('s proxy) will describe this development as "really great". Possibly "magical".

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