Like the iPhone’s lack of copy/paste functionality, the Android-powered T-Mobile G1 has been criticized for its lack of true multi-touch support. Multi-touch technology has been gaining traction as the most intuitive way to interact with a touchscreen smartphone, and has been a driver in the iPhone’s success. So, why are the G1 and Android OS so conspicuously missing multi-touch support? Word has it that Apple asked Google to keep their hands off multi-touch technology.
According to an Android team member, Google purposefully omitted multi-touch support from their Android OS at the request of Apple. Google reportedly complied with Apple’s request with little fuss, presumably due to Google’s close-knit relationship with Apple.
The G1 and Android OS have been proven to work with multi-touch gestures, so it’s not a matter of hardware incompatibilities keeping multi-touch off the G1. Moreover, the G1’s capacitance touchscreen is perfectly suited for multi-touch interaction. The problem, it seems, is that Apple has a veritable stranglehold (or at least they’d have us believe as much) on multi-touch technologies, thanks to a few key patents.
But, there’s hope yet. It’s too easy to see Google developing the Android OS with full muti-touch support in a private development branch, waiting for the day when Apple licenses mulit-touch (or at least stops trying to protect the technology through dubious patents). The Palm Pre is already being prepared to showdown with Apple over multi-touch technologies on smartphones, so it may just be a matter of time before we see Android rocking multi-touch!