Oct 30 AT 9:49 PM Taylor Wimberly 45 Comments

Android 2.0 does indeed feature multitouch

I have been reading a lot of confusion about multitouch support in Android 2.0 so I wanted to clear things up. Android 2.0 has full support for multitouch. You can read about the developer APIs on the official Android site.

The Motorola Droid has multitouch capabilities, but several reviewers noted that it did not include pinch zoom in the browser so they incorrectly claimed it lacked multitouch. The Droid does feature in fact feature multitouch when using the soft keyboard and it will also support multitouch apps and games that are designed for it.

It would appear that Google left out pinch zoom from the browser because of the Apple trademark.

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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  • http://twitter.com/jewjawsh Jawsh

    Makes sense. The pinch zoom is a nice feature though, def would have liked to see it in the stock browser. an eclair update for steel should see pinch browsing, I’d hope.

    • http://twitter.com/jewjawsh Jawsh

      pinch zoom* not browsing

  • mvv_hyd

    I never really used pinch zoom even in Cyanogen ROMs. I just use “double-click” zoom using better browser. It’s very convenient and it’s one-handed operation

    • ffa

      I wonder what your using the other hand for o.O

      • hehe


      • http://Website Kron

        Can’t drive one handed and do Apple iPhoney’s “Multi-Touch” w/pinch zoom in Google Maps even on iPhone. So if you’re suggesting something lame & personal….. lol… just keep it to yourself! haha… it’s already more info than we need! ;)

        btw…. to all the Applettes and iDon’t users. All touch screen are multiple touch capable and the technology is old (1972 bank ATM’s, etc). Basically Android 2.x or greater is multiple touch enabled. But Google and Apple have an agreement to not use “Pinch Zoom”. Although App Devs are using “Squeeze Zoom” in their designs! …and just so you know, why in the World would you be doing your thing w/ any phone in your other hand! xD …but please don’t tell us! ;)

  • rtx

    the apple trademark is for the phrase not the action. there is no reason why pinch and zoom inside the browser should not be part of android 2.0.

  • Steve

    You’re really reaching here. If it takes someone to explain it like splitting hairs, non techies will just say “it doesn’t have it”. Most won’t know the difference. All I know is motorola dropped the bAll on this. Instead of beating the competition, it just “might be as good”. Hopefully htc can blow apple out of the water. Motorola will Bleed out within a year.

  • Michael

    The Apple Trademark?? That is really strange. A trademark protects a company’s rights to a name, not a technology. So if Apple’s only protection is a Trademark on “multi-touch” then other companies could introduce the exact same feature and call it something different, say full-fingered navigation, or skip-to-m’lou for that matter.

  • jakob peters

    i think that the multi touch zoom was a bit clunky on the iPhone. the only thing I’d ever heard it being used for was to zoom on certain parts of images for a closer look. Double tap is much better for the functional purposes of navigating around web pages. once copy/paste was added, that just compounded everything on the browser interface. on android 2.0 it is much more user friendly and avoid those kind of frustrations.

    • drock4484

      Are you seriously kidding me? Multitouch on the iphone clunky? Please just stop embarrassing yourself fanboy. The iphone clearly has the best mobile OS and everybody is trying to copy it and they still havent even pulled even with it yet.

    • beach

      Wow, calm down iphan. He’s saying that the pinch zoom _in the browser_ is a clunky waste of time. Few would disagree. I’ve had a ipod touch for a couple years now and never, not ever, use pinch zoom on web pages. It’s a hassle, you don’t zoom it to the right perspective, you have to use two hands… it’s clunky.

      The only time I use the pinch zoom.

      And as for your comment that other mobile OSs are still trying to catch up… that is as fanboy as it gets. Android is already far and beyond iphone OS. Tell me one thing other than time (for app development) and userbase that iphone has over Android? I can’t name a single feature.

      I’ve heard claims about a “polished” UI but simplified doesn’t mean polished. It’s showing its age. No widgets and background apps is enough to toss that OS.

  • zer0-9

    Apple also has multiple patents in process, pending, applied, or awarded. I’m not sure which ones are where but I do remember reading a while back that an Apple patent for gesture based touch interface was calling into question the release of the Palm Pre. Just google “apple patent palm”. that’ll generate a list of articles. Its a bit late for me to try and reread and catch up on them.

  • Alex

    if apple has the trademark then y does the palm pre hav pinch and zoom….now i love android but i jus think they left it out there is no trade mark excuse

    • Tom

      The reason pre has pinch zooming is that they chose to disregard patent law. They are currently being sued by apple.

      • carig

        Actually apple hasn’t sued palm, presumably because they realize there’s no real legal weight to their case. Other phones like the HTC hero have added pinch to zoom and apple hasn’t done anything. The only reason google won’t add it is because they let apple boss them around, funny cause the iphone would suck without some of its google apps.

      • beach

        They are NOT being sued by Apple. All it has been is saber rattling so far.

        Personally, I don’t think Apple wants to run that battle until more time has passed. There are still youtube videos of multi-touch pinch zoom demos years before the iphone came out.

        Just do a search for Jeff Han, multi-touch. He had public demos of it back in 2005. It had been demoed to university audiences by him as far back as 2003. Other companies have had multi-touch and zoom features for years earlier.

  • VanVlack

    Theres no way multi touch is apples technology. The concept has been around for many many years. Even the pinch is old. Its just now that devices have enough power to handle it and the iPhone was the first popular consumer device on the market to have it.

  • davidjspooner

    Apple may or may not hold a valid patent on the use of certain pinching gestures being used for zoom operations. I am sure that apple lawyers will be happy to tie a competitor up in litigation for months if not years if anyone really wants to debate that point. Makes sense for Google to put in the technology to allow brave third parties to provide pinch support in their apps.

  • http://www.nexsoftware.net nEx.Software

    I personally don’t think that pinch to zoom is anything special. I have absolutely no problem double-tapping, or tapping then using the on-screen plus/minus buttons. That seems far more intuitive than pinching, to be honest.

  • Straightening You Out

    It’s nice that it has multitouch for other things, but the most useful part, and the part you would use every day, is pinch to zoom in browsing and looking at photographs. So, while it does fully support multitouch, it doesn’t fully implement it, so it might as well not even fully support it.

    And that’s a fail.

    • http://www.nexsoftware.net nEx.Software

      I have had pinch to zoom on the CyanogenMod browser for months and have never, ever, EVER used it. I simply don’t see the appeal. I feel the same about pictures, no point as the plus/minus has never felt awkward to me.

      • Straightening You Out

        Your anecdotal experience with multitouch is useful to this conversation. Congrats.

      • Straightening You Out

        Not to mention your repetition.

        • http://www.nexsoftware.net nEx.Software

          Wow, hmmm… So you have decided that because you think pinch to zoom epitomizes Multi-Touch that everyone else must feel the same way?

  • Masque

    Since Android is an open OS, couldn’t someone just technically make a browser application which does support Multi Touch? Or even a pre-loader to the Google Browser that has a multi-touch overlay in it?

    • http://www.nexsoftware.net nEx.Software

      Yes… Someone can and probably will make a new version of the browser with Multi-Touch enabled. They could not however just make an overlay on top of the browser.

      • David

        Actually (as I posted elsewhere as well), since the browser code is open source and available at http://source.android.com/, I would imagine one could make a release of the existing browser with whatever extra features they want.

        • David

          Whoops, that is basically what you just said. Time to have my coffee now…

      • Masque

        I guess just customizing the browser source would be the best option. When I mentioned an “overlay”, I was basically talking about a pre-loader for the application itself which could intercept interrupts for the touch aspect and provide the necessary commands downstream to the application to do the “zoom” functionality. Modifying the source to the application itself sounds like a much “cleaner” option.

  • drock4484

    Call it whatever you like, but this isnt the real multi-touch. With no pinch zoom and no double tap to automatically zoom to that portion of the browser, its not multi-touch. Android will never be as smooth or polished as iphone OS.

    • carig

      it does have double tap to zoom, and as was mentioned someone will probably make a version of the browser with pinch zoom and put it in the app store, because on android you can have apps that “duplicate functionality”

      and did you come to an android blog just to tell everyone how much you love the iphone?

      • drock4484

        The double tap to zoom doesnt work like the iphone’s. It just zooms in 10% at a time correct? And until someone writes and app that “duplicates” all the iphone multi-touch it doesnt have it does it?

        I came here to follow the new droid phone coming out. I love my iphone but hate the at&t network and was hoping the droid would at least be equal to the iphone but its not.

        I’ve been trying to track down all the apps i have on my iphone to see if they are on android or if there are equivalents. But for over half of them there arent. Its quite disappointing actually because I really want off at&t. I was hoping android 2.0 would be more equal to iphone OS but it isnt close. I have friends who have G1′s running 1.6 and its really not even close.

        • David

          Yeah, out of the box it does not have it. I think iPhone will always be king when it comes to “out of the box” functionality, which is what most people care about. However, for those of us that care about expandability, flexibility, customization, etc. Android is a godsend. I would be very surprised if the number of apps for Android do not eventually surpass those for the iPhone, since Android is SO much more developer friendly. As a developer, this excites me, though I can totally dig that most people are NOT developers, and probably do not care about the same things I care about.
          In any event, can’t wait until Friday when I get to pick up my Droid!

        • carig

          i’m not sure how double tap to zoom works on the iphone but on 2.0 it’s double tap to zoom in definitely more than 10% and again to zoom back out, and if you double tap on a bock of text it auto fits so that the text fits across the screen

          i think android and the iphone are just different, the iphone is better for the majority of consumers who want a phone that has a lot of functionality that is really easy to figure out and use, whereas android is better for the more techy people who want to be able to do more and want to customize and change their phone to work the way they want it to, so you can’t expect android to match your iphone but it’s really only worse for you

          and i also think that android will eventually surpass the iphone in apps, its real issue so far is lack of market share but considering android is about to flood the market with devices it will soon be close to the iphone in market share and the apps will follow

  • David

    Looks like the Android browser is open source, so it should not be very hard to add pinch and zoom to it. Granted, I’ve never developed for Android, so take that with a grain of salt. But I’m looking forward to tinkering with it!

  • spence

    Come on, why no pinch zooming is google scared of apple cause HTC’s already made android handsets with pinch zooming

  • macdragonfl

    Apple did apply for gestures patent. I do not know if it was granted or not. HTC must share some tech with Apple. The browser on my Hero identifies itself as iphone browser, apple webkit 3.1. It seems if they were not sharing tech Apple would start a suit against them as the Hero has been out in Europe for a while.

    • just some dude

      The browser that iphone uses is not there own. both Iphone and android get there browsers from a company called http://webkit.org

      may i suggest that your have a rooted phone in which case you have the option to make your browser appear as if it was form an iphone or from linux or android.

  • http://lundgrenstudios.com Ted C

    Hey Hey Hey! Android 1.6 already has pinch multi-touch features implemented with a style of its very own! ie: Bring a browser up and navigate to any page. Touch the screen with two fingers simultaneously in a pinch movement. It will instantly bring up the plus/minus zoom widgit and a framer widget to navigate to the part of the webpage you wish to point and zoom into. Maybe not as quick as Apples pinch and zoom but definitely elegant and functional in its own way.

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  • paul

    had the iPhone with att, had to return it because it can’t serve its main purpose, being a reliable phone. It amazes me that people are willing to put up with dropped calls, static, no service etc. just to have a mobile web browser
    Droid as a phone crushes iPhone period. In my office building the iPhone was a paperweight.

  • http://www.twitter.com/kelly__anderson Kelly Anderson

    If there are not effective and standard system wide multi touch gestures, the phone does not have multi-touch, not matter how much is Supports it, it is still vapor ware until I can use it. #fail

    Pay the license fee to apple and minus the suck from the google phone.

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