Nov, 18 2008

You know that cool multi-touch feature that iPhone folks brag about? We’ll admit… it IS pretty cool. Did you know that G1 is capable of multi-touch, too? You probably didn’t and for good reason.

The Android OS has multi-touch capabilities written into it but they are commented out. For non-developers this means the code is there, exists and works but is wrapped with other code telling the OS not to run or comprehend that code. We’re not sure who initially figured this out but a guy going by RyeBrye tried to prove it.

And he was successful.

According to RyeBrye he was able to activate said code, recompile the kernel and the Android OS was capable of tracking the position and activity of 2 fingers on the touchscreen at the same time! Multi-touch it is! So the question is… if Multi-Touch exists, why has it been disabled on the G1?

The most obvious possibility here is that Apple’s patents on Multi-Touch technology prevented Google, HTC and T-Mobile from “going live” with Multi-Touch on the G1. But that’s just a guess- nobody knows the true story behind it all.

A google staffer unofficially pointed out two things that the untrained eye might not have been able to:

  • HTC has specified that the G1 will have a single-touch screen. (This is significant, because their spec is for single touch for the G1, this means that they could in the future source touchscreens that are not multi-touch capable – so just because a certain run of G1s might have a multitouch capable screen, they have the liberty to swap out parts [and they may already have G1s out in the field that don’t have a multi-touch capable screen])
  • The other issue is with how the driver reports the width of the touch. It appears that the “w” element is the same on both of the fingers (altough this might just be a quirk in the driver code that was commented out – since it does seem to be based on pressure and putting fingers on opposite corners and pressing lightly still shows a 1 for “w” – but placing 2 fingers close together and pressing hard will show a 15 for “w” – so I’m not entirely convinced of this)

Now that all of this has become rather public, hopefully we’ll get some official information as to the who-what-when-where-why of the G1 multi-touch amputation. What do YOU think?

[Via RyeBrye]