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Android multi-touch pulled for Apple?

updated 07:45 am EST, Tue February 10, 2009

Android Multi-Touch Pulled

Google may have consciously stripped multi-touch input from its Android mobile operating system solely to avoid a conflict with Apple over patents, a member of the Android development team claims. The iPhone maker reportedly asked Google not to use multi-finger input and, according to the source for VentureBeat, was granted its wish. The exact reason isn't known, though Apple has both the incentive of an early competitive advantage as well as patents that might have forced it either to negotiate a patent license or else challenge one of its closest partners in court.

Google already supplies multiple services for the iPhone, including the infrastructure for Google Maps as well as the default search in Safari and a dedicated YouTube client. Separate software like the Google Mobile App also uses undocumented APIs with permission from Apple for special features such as its voice search feature. The two are also joined by Google CEO Eric Schmidt's presence on Apple's board of directors as well as Apple's integration of Google services in the iLife suite, such as built-in support for YouTube in iMovie and iWeb.

Neither company has publicly commented on the decision, though hacks to Android on the T-Mobile G1 have proven that both the hardware and software is technically capable of at least a rudimentary form of multi-touch.

The news comes shortly after Palm may have illustrated the concerns over patent disputes. Although Apple hasn't said it would necessarily target Palm, the former company has warned that it will defend its patents for multi-touch input and may conflict with its newly reinvigorated rival, which says it can fend off lawsuits aimed at the multi-touch capable Pre smartphone and the webOS that it runs.

Separately, the same Google developer slipping the information also supports claims that Intel is launching a "massive" effort to put Android on netbooks and is closely involved with the process. The systems may arrive as early as this year and would undermine Microsoft's attempts to dominate the budget portables, which usually run Windows XP but often run Linux on the least expensive or slowest models. Android's original focus on smartphones lets it run smoothly on less powerful computing hardware and is said ideal for China, where costs and a desire for Android's open-source nature may rule out Windows.

by MacNN Staff



  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I'm more concerned over 'partners' getting access to undocumented APIs while regular developers have to do things "the correct way" then I am over Apple pushing their patents.

    Although one has to wonder whether the reasons were legitimate or due to conflicts of interest on the part of Google and their board member.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    oh well.

    I think google must have agreed because they knew the dev community would just build it eventually anyway. That way it's a win with them and apple, but android still gets multi-touch. This is why open source is nice.

  1. Mr. Strat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    No biggie

    I don't miss it in my G1. I guess it would be cool, but so far I've lived without it and haven't missed it.

  1. UberFu

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Apple Did Not Invent Multi-Touch!

    Several Scientist and developers have been working on this for years. Apple can only Patent specifically it's own little gestures. Nothing more.

    It would be like Apple trying to Patent the Monitor. Only Apple Computer's come with a monitor - everybody else has to figure out a differnt display interface.

  1. cyn1c

    Joined: Dec 1969


    so annoying

    Uber-Fu is correct. It's really disappointing to see other companies continuing to avoid multitouch. While they insinuate that Apple's patents are the reason, I bet it is really because they don't want to spend the money to develop it.

    I am looking forward to Sprint putting out their multitouch Pre.

    The iPhone is really cool, but it has been out for a while now and in my opinion is starting stagnate from lack of competition... can we please get some comparable competing products?

  1. webraider

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Apple may not have invented Multi-Touch.. but in Steve Jobs on words.."We've patented the heck out of it".

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