The New York Time has a full length feature up about the state of the Apple vs. Google rivalry and how it's getting personal. We've heard similar several times before, of course, and Apple has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Android manufacturer HTC. But the details here are interesting:

As Google’s plans took shape, Apple and Google executives either met in person or spoke on the phone on multiple occasions about Apple’s concern about Android, executives on both sides say.

Many of those meetings turned confrontational, according to people familiar with the discussions, with Mr. Jobs often accusing Google of stealing iPhone features. Google executives said that Android’s features were based on longstanding ideas already circulating in the industry and that some Android prototypes predated the iPhone.

At one particularly heated meeting in 2008 on Google’s campus, Mr. Jobs angrily told Google executives that if they deployed a version of multitouch — the popular iPhone feature that allows users to control their devices with flicks of their fingers — he would sue. Two people briefed on the meeting described it as “fierce” and “heated.”

It's undeniable that Google bought Android before Apple released the iPhone (though Apple was reportedly working on the iPhone/iPad technology for 2-3 years already by then). It's also undeniable that the early Android prototypes we saw looked more like BlackBerry or Windows Mobile Standard, yet when Google debuted the G1, it was a full screen, capacitive touch device with the same screen resolution as the iPhone. From the Hero to the Droid to the Nexus One, similar form factors have followed while the BlackBerry-esque devices have yet to be seen.

Many other incidents, such as the still-unapproved/rejected Google Voice app for iPhone, Google CEO Eric Schmidt leaving the Apple Board of Directors, and Google buying (and paying a premium for) AdMob after Apple expressed an interest in the company, are all said to result from this souring in relations.

The two remain successful partners for now, and Google keeps saying everything is "stable". The NYT suggests, however, that someone like longstanding Google mentor and Apple board member Bill Campbell, formerly of Intuit, needs to act as a peacemaker to bring the two giants back together. Otherwise, rumors persist of Steve Ballmer and Microsoft's Bing standing poised to take Google's place as Apple's default search engine, map provider, and ally.

It's a long article but well worth a read, especially the parts about how Google founders Sergy Brin and Larry Page, and Steve Jobs used to enjoy a close relationship. Check it out and let us know what you think...