Feb 04 AT 10:12 AM Sean Riley 56 Comments

So maybe it was Apple’s fault that we have been suffering without multitouch

I’m sure by now that you are all aware that multitouch has come to a U.S. Android device at long last. This was fast becoming an issue akin to the iPhone not having copy and paste or MMS for the first couple years of its existence. Every interview you saw with a member of the Android team would feature at least a brief grill session on why multitouch (or “specific multitouch implementations” as Erick Tseng put it to Engadget) were missing on U.S. Android devices.

Now that we have multitouch the why probably seems less important, but I think the answer has been made crystal clear.

Yesterday was six months to the day since Eric Schmidt resigned from Apple’s board. Yes, we received the official news on the morning of August 3rd, but chances are that all the real activity went down a day earlier. Obviously there were stipulations to that exit that just finally ran out yesterday blessing the Nexus One with its new found abilities. So it was Apple’s fault that we have all been suffering without multitouch for these many months.

As I said, the why seems significantly less important now that multitouch is in our grubby little hands, but it is comforting to me to know it wasn’t some obscure patent related paranoia on the part of Google which could have left us out in the unitouch cold forever. The important thing is that now that the seal has been broken on U.S. Android multitouch, presumably we will see it flow freely to those handsets stateside  that are capable of it (I’m looking at you Droid) and possibly most importantly everyone can stop asking when multitouch is coming.

So sit back, relax, and pinch and zoom to your heart’s content.

Source: TechCrunch

Sean has been with Android and Me for over 8 years and covering mobile for the last 9. He occasionally muses about gadgets and tech outside of the Android universe at Techgasms.

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  • http://createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn


    Now, maybe they can work on that multitouch API for developers so it’s easier to work with? ;)

    • Pete Doyle

      The API has supported it since the 2.0 release, meaning anyone can already write an app for a 2.0 device that supports multitouch (i.e. Droid).

      Its just been that Google has decided not to use that API for their own stuff until yesterday (i.e. in Browser, Maps, Gallery, Keyboard, etc).

      I’m hoping this development means MT / pinch to zoom are coming to most android devices soon :)

      • Pete Doyle

        Sorry :) Missed the “so its easier to work with” part :)

    • http://ellianth.com Anthony

      Totally off topic. Nice picture!

  • http://www.ramblinren.com Renaldo

    For the keyboard and games, I am in agreement with having the functionality, but “pinch and zoom” is nothing more than a gimmick.

    I’d like to see a zoom bar instead, but oh well. Viva la Android!

    • http://Website dutch


      • http://Website Jason

        The multitouch on a keyboard allows the phone to register the keys in the order that they were pushed, allowing us to type faster and not having to ensure that one finger is off the screen before we touch another key. Also, hold the shift key and tap letters for caps, then release the shift key and it goes back to lowercase – rather than double tap the shift for caps lock, or tap shift, tap the letter, tap shift again for another cap.

        There are videos out there that show you the difference between the iPhone OS’s multitouch keyboard and Android’s non multitouch keyboard. iPhone’s wins in a heartbeat for useability, in my opinion.

  • http://Website BC

    “iPhone not having copy and paste or SMS for the first couple” FYI: SMS should be changed to MMS.

  • http://Website Drizzle

    Pinch zoom is still dumb. Two hands to zoom seems counterproductive. I agree its a gimmick and makes the gullible feel like android just caught up. Whatever works. Had multi touch for quite a bit thanks to cyanogen but still prefer double tap.

    • http://www.ramblinren.com Renaldo

      Exactly.. To use pinch and zoom, I essentially need to hold the phone with my other hand. What if I have something in that hand? What if I’m trying to take notes, or carrying a cup of hot tea?

      One-handing a phone to pinch-and-zoom is just asking to trip on a crack in the sidewalk and destroy your device.

      • Pete Doyle

        Anyone know if the Pinch to Zoom update for Nexus One disabled these one-handed zoom operations (such as double-tap)?

        At surface level, it seems almost trivial to support both, so this seems like a win-win (i.e. for people like me who like pinch to zoom)?

        • http://Website andres

          don’t worry, double tap zoom is still there. as are the buttons.

          give us an option to hide the zoom buttons now. i loved that with the cyanogen mods on my G1.

  • http://corvusconsulting.ca Todd Sieling

    Or it was Schmidt’s fault for joining the Apple board with those stipulations, or Apple’s fault for developing and patenting multitouch first so that Google has to dance around that patent. “Apple’s fault” is pretty low, even for linkbait.

    • http://Website carig

      I have to agree with this actually. Apple acted the way I would expect them to act. Schmidt and Google should not have let themselves get put in that position and Schmidt should have quit a lot sooner if Apple was using legal agreements to limit Android.

    • http://www.cogspace.com/ Katie

      Or it was Apple’s fault for abusing contract law to get around the fact that its nonsensical multi-touch patents will be voided at first trial due to 30 years of prior art? Multi-touch has been around since the ’80s, and Apple used this as a bargaining chip to strengthen its newfound monopoly on the smartphone market. Nothing more.

  • http://Website J

    the only multi-touch I care about is for keyboards; where is that? I WANT CHORDING!

    • http://Website Dustin

      i second that, the keyboard needs some improvement, and with chording would solve most of the issues with it.

      • http://www.cogspace.com/ Katie

        Hear, hear! Switching to capslock to tap out an acronym is a bit obnoxious. Chording with shift would be quite handy.

  • jalberty

    Ok. So now there is multitouch on Android. What bout an update for us, the first users of Android. Users with HTC Dream or Tmobile G1, we haven’t seen an update for a while.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Most handset makers have said to expect Android 2.1 updates in Q2 2010.

      I’ve yet to hear anything official on the G1, so I’m not holding my breath on it getting 2.1.

    • http://www.Ramblinren.com Renaldo

      To be honest, I’ve had root and multi-touch since December 2008, the year of our Lord, Jesusfreke.

      The G1 community gave up on expecting anything from T-Mobile, and one thing I dislike about people who review Android is that they leave out what the Dev community has done for the platform.

      So, long story short, if you want Apps2SD, Multi-Touch, and a generally better phone than that which came out the box, root it.

  • http://Website Westy

    It drives me absolute batty when i read articles like this. LACK OF PINCH ZOOM IS NOT THE ANDROID NOT HAVING MULTI TOUCH. Multi Touch functionality has been added to Android a long time ago now it was up to the developers to implement it within their apps. Not having pinch zoom doesnt constitute not having mutlitouch enable on the OS. You would think tech sites would know the difference.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Android 2.0 introduced multitouch APIs, but it was not implemented into the native applications (until the new N1 OTA).

      Keep in mind that 80% of Android devices are not running Andriod 2.x.

    • http://Website ontheFritz

      I have to agree with you here. Doesn’t the Eris support multi-touch natively? I remember using it in the Verizon store. It was brought up at the N1 launch event too – Eris was mentioned as an example of the implementation, and that they’d look into it for the N1.

      • http://www.technogasms.com Sean Riley

        The multitouch implementations on the Eris are coded in by HTC, not Google.

  • http://gloriouscomputing.wordpress.com Code6

    MMS. The iPhone didn’t have MMS for years. It came with SMS.

  • http://www.nexsoftware.net Justin Shapcott

    Sooo… We’re thinking here that there was some sort of non-compete in effect? And that there was a 6-month limitation to that non-compete? Seems like an awfully strange thing to have a non-compete for, but I suppose possible. After all, multi-touch is a highly visible feature that has been a major selling point of the iPhone for its entire existence.

    Nice article.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Yeah it sounds plausible to me. Kind of like Conan’s non-compete clause for 6 months.

  • http://Website swazedahustla


    Yes the Eris and HTC hero both have multitouch enabled natively.

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  • http://Website rey

    What are the chances that the Mytouch 3g gets multi touch ?

    • http://www.psychocats.net/ubuntucat A.Y. Siu

      About equal to the chances that you’ll install a rooted ROM on your MyTouch 3G. Almost every rooted ROM I’ve installed on mine has had multi-touch for the past few months.

      P.S. Multi-touch is overrated. It’s a gimmick. Not terribly practical.

      • http://www.hagrin.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=3 z6

        This is like this argument back when the iPhone didn’t have MMS… why do you need MMS just use email etc.. The point is that some users want it, and there is no reason not to provide. You have both methods of zooming now, with or without multitouch. Hopefully in the future you can select which method you want to use, so everyone is completely happy.

        As far as multitouch being a gimmick… not for the keyboard. It would be incredibly useful for that.

        • http://Website J

          do the custom roms for the MT3G include a multitouch keyboard?

      • http://Website rey

        Yea all i want multi touch for is the key board, i like the zoom bar on the browser and pictures. also gaming will be improved.

      • http://Website MrTremor

        Muli-touch is not the gimmick, pinch zoom is. Multi-touch is required for good game play. Try and use on-screen controls without multi-touch and you will see. A good example is the NES emulator, without multi-touch it sucks to even use the on screen UI because you can’t hold two points on the screen at the same time.

    • Pete Doyle

      My opinion- Very high, if the mytouch ever gets updated 2.1-update1 or higher

  • http://www.hagrin.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=3 z6

    Bit of a reach, don’t you think?

  • http://Website Gilbert Orbea

    You can’t say there is multitouch on Android because it’s not. It’s on the Nexus One. Give us multitouch on all devices, then Android officially has multitouch.

    • z0phi3l

      All Android 2.0+ devices have MT

      • Pete Doyle

        But not pinch-to-zoom in any Google-provided app released in the US (until yesterday).

        @Gilbert, if this article speculates correctly, it seems likely Nexus One is simply the *first* to support pinch-to-zoom, with *many* to follow.

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  • http://www.googleandblog.com/ Michael Martin


    I posted an article today referencing you as its interesting if there was a 6 month rule in effect – like in dating after 6 months of a break up you can sleep with (or multi touch) anyone you want ;)


  • http://txhoudini.com Eric Weiss

    From what I understand the Apple patent on multitouch is shaky at best and likely to be thrown out if brought before a court, though it would still cost both parties a lot of money in legal fees. I would say this is more of a “gentleman’s agreement” (Apple doesn’t sue Google for using their patent, Google doesn’t challenge Apple’s patent) than the start of a no-holds-barred fight.

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  • http://gl0rify.com Stefing

    Now if only the Nexus One can get rid of the multi-processing, SD card, USB, AMOLED screen and removable battery it might start to really compete with Apple!

  • http://Website paul

    Yeah Stefing!!! If only the nexus one sucked balls and decided to try to force people to use a dedicated program to sync pics and movies and took away the wallpapers forcing us to have a black background and auto arranged all our icons for us… then it might be as “COOL” as the die-Phone!

    On a side note my At&t rep told me yesterday iphone is definetly going to verizon under the stipulation that they have %15 of the country ready for 4g by Q4 of this year! He also said that verizon did plan to announce ipad partnership up until 48 hours before the apple press event then pulled out allowing at&t to grab it!… im assuming verizon will get a 4g ipad as well…

    • http://www.technogasms.com Sean Riley

      Stefing just forget his /sarcasm tag to make his intent a little clearer. Those are quite definitely all factors in favor of the N1, although I’m not 100% sold on AMOLED screens yet with the sunlight issues. I know they look gorgeous though.

      Shenanigans on VZW pulling out on the iPad announcement 48 hours prior. I think we are going to see both the iPhone and iPad on Big Red this summer, but if Apple’s exclusivity deal with ATT runs until June I doubt Apple would cannibalize current sales by announcing a device on another carrier months in advance.

  • http://cyclehawk.ning.com Rafael N

    I got the update on my nexus today and it just confirmed what I always though of multi-touch for browsing. Using one hand to hold the phone and using the other hand’s fore-finger and thumb to zoom on a block of text or picture doesn’t seem natural. When double tap automatically resizes and positions the text block perfectly for you. Double tap again and I get an overview of the web page. If I’m a pinch zoom user, I have to make sure i pick the exact center spot to start the pinch and then I have to perform a very slow and smooth pinch gesture just to make sure I don’t over or under zoom.

    Pinchzoom for browsing “looks” cool on paper, but its really just a techie novelty that wears off once you try to use it day after day.

    I was disapointed though that they left out multitouch where Android needed it the most, on the keyboard, so I could type a bit faster and use the shift key like a normal keyboard.

  • http://Website adam

    dream on mytouch3g user only motorola cliq and droid will get beyond 2.1 and 2.1 update 1 . The only htc phone passing those limit beside nexus one is htc hero and droid eris .. Everyone who bought phone from last year is not past beyond 2.1 . That it root/jailbreak if you want but when you return it for another dont get mad. LOng live android 0S and motorola for future update. ROOTing is for cheap,impatient customer like most of you are..

    • http://Website darkfire

      I’m cheap cause I want wifi or rndis tethering, a more efficient build of the os, custom themes, custom themes, compcache and swap, apps to ad. More. Launcher screens on default, etc…
      I guess I’m cheap then if all of that is on reason to root my g1.

    • http://Website John

      According to T-Mobile, theupdated MyTouch 3G 1.2 (or 3G+, whatever they’re going to call it) that will be released on 2/10/10 will be able to receive the 2.1 update1. so I wouldn’t say the only HTC phones that can support MT are the Hero and the Eris…

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