Mar 03 AT 1:04 AM Taylor Wimberly 110 Comments

Is multitouch broken on the Nexus One? Sort of…

It is time to play blog journalism. I provide the questions. You find the answers and then we share them with the community.

  1. Why does the Nexus One suffer from poor multitouch performance?
  2. Is it a hardware limitation or software issue and can it be fixed?

It was brought to my attention tonight that multitouch recognition is having a lot of issues on the Nexus One. Robert Greeen of Battery Powered Games told me he was having problems with the Nexus One touchscreen and made a quick app to demonstrate it visually.

The application is called Multitouch Visible Test and it is available in the Android Market.

“This app shows how your phone’s hardware handles multitouch. The event data is not processed in any way. The two dots are drawn exactly where the phone reports you are touching.

For many current Android phones, there will be lots of bad data including axis flipping and near-axis influence.”Robert GreenBattery Powered Games

The Nexus One performs perfectly fine when used for pinch zoom implementations, but it struggles in other situations. When two fingers are placed close to each other or they cross the same axix, the data points get flipped. This is a major problem for games that use multitouch and I have experienced them first hand with Polarbit games like ToonWarz.

No problems were experienced when using the same multitouch application on the Motorola Droid. To demonstrate the difference I filmed a quick video.

As you can see the Droid works as we would expect it, but the Nexus One has bugs throughout the testing. Does the Droid actually feature a better touchscreen or does the Nexus One (which features the newer Android 2.1) have a software bug?

Update: It looks like we have a partial answer to one of the questions. Dianna Hackborn, a Google engineer, posted the following response on the official Android Developers group. It appears the Droid does in fact have a higher quality touch screen and a “fix” for the Nexus One does not look good at this point.

“Sorry I meant exactly what I said: this is how the touch screen hardware on the Nexus One works (which is essentially the same screen as on the G1 and myTouch).  The Droid has a sensor from a different manufacturer, with different behavior.  Other phones will likewise have different sensors.”Dianne HackbornAndroid framework engineer

To those who will complain, this has been tested on multiple Droids and Nexii that were both stock Android and rooted. All the Nexus One users we sampled reported similar issues on their devices. Feel free to share your own findings in the comments.

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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