One of the key (and only) advantages the iPhone has over the T-Mobile G1 and the Android platform is Multi-Touch capability. That’s not entirely true – we’ve not only seen multi-touch on the G1 but we can also hack multi-touch on the G1 ourselves. But out of the box, Android does NOT support multi-touch.
What makes this odd is the fact that Android is capable of supporting multi-touch but the lines of code designated for it are commented out. The most common explanation has been that Apple’s bazillion patents protecting their multi-touch technology scared Google away from including it or trying to find a legal loophole. Multi-touch is, fyi, the ability for a touch screen to accept multiple points of contact simultaneously.
An Android Team Member told VentureBeat that Apple asked Google not to incorporate Multi-Touch and that Google simply agreed. While Android competes with the iPhone, remember that Google’s core business is search and Google and Apple have a close relationship with Google Mobile Search and products on the iPhone. They don’t want to put that relationship in harms way.
Keep in mind that the upcoming Palm Pre is currently catching the eye of Apple’s patent protectors and if Multi-Touch slips through the cracks on Palm devices, Android could seem like the odd man out sitting one rung below the others on the totem pole.
At least initially, Apple may have asked Google kindly and Google kindly obliged. But you can be sure as the smartphone platform war heats up and the competition intensifies that this issue will be revisited.
Also of note, the Android Team Member said that we could see a large rollout of Android based netbooks (or something like that) as soon as this year. And Intel has a massive effort underway related to Android. Smell that? Its the plot in the pot thickening.