Nexus One Multi-Touch Severely Flawed?


Complaints of multi-touch problems on Apps and Games have been quite predominant with the Nexus One. Many people directed complaints to developers of the specific app or game but it appears that could be misguided criticism. Robert Green of Battery Powered Games decided to do a little test and created an app that only intends to identify where your touchscreen THINKS your fingers are when using multi-touch.

Here are the results, recorded by AndroidAndMe:

The Droid is on point and the Nexus One has a pretty significant axis-flipping problem. What gives? While you might THINK this could be a problem solved with an OTA update it isn’t looking like a likely outcome based on a Google Employee response by Diane Hackborn:

“Sorry I meant exactly what I said: this is how the touch screen hardware on the Nexus One works (which is essentially the same screen as on the G1 and myTouch).  The Droid has a sensor from a different manufacturer, with different behavior.  Other phones will likewise have different sensors.”

Are our Nexus One owners in the crowd reporting the same results? The testing application is called Multitouch Visible Test and is available on Android Market.

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. I still think it is the app, not the phone since I have noticed no issues while using the N1

  2. This is why I’m holding off for the Motorola Shadow/Nexus Two… Or the X10 if it gets 2.1

  3. Yep it seems I get exactly the same results on my Nexus One .. kinda sucks, but then again multi-touch on such a small device seems almost pointless to me.

  4. @brett

    Have you used many multitouch apps on the N1? The only ones I’ve used just use it for pinch-and-zoom, which would work just fine even if this is what’s going on.

    I am tempted to write my own test app, though…

  5. Not sure what it is, but I don’t have this problem anywhere but on this app. Works just lovely elsewhere

  6. Works perfect on my droid.

  7. I think this issue can be resolved on software side. It won’t an easy fix, but driver can track movements, search for errors and fix coordinates.

  8. I always wondered why the multitouch on maps was kinda weird. This explains it. I downloaded the app and it does go nuts like the video.

  9. Downloaded the app on my N1 and it did exhibit the problem as seen in the video. I can’t confirm if this is a fault of the hardware screen, the android OS, or a bug in this guys application. Doesn’t matter to me because it doesn’t effect any of the apps I have, or pinch zoom.

  10. I get the same result on the htc Hero like on the Nexus in the video.

  11. Same results with my N1.

    @Daniel -good point, I’ve only used pinch-to-zoom multitouch apps, thus I never noticed the axis-flip.

  12. For those of you who think that somehow the code is wrong, I posted all of the source for everyone to look at and scrutinize. It’s pretty hard to say I somehow messed up the values when I passed x1,y1 and x2,y2 directly from the touch event to a draw method that puts circles of different colors there and does nothing more, but go ahead and check out this link to be sure :)


  13. ahhh. this may explain the issues I have been having with Nesoid and Gameboid. Lame. I also have had weird things happen when typing quickly. I thought I just had retarded fingers but now I something else to blame… (probably still my fingers.)

  14. try multouch paint what happens…

  15. i meant this http://goo.gl/KJlV

  16. This is quite an alarming thing for such a high-end device. I hope this can and will be brought to Google’s attention for them to address it. For pinch-zooming it really doesn’t matter if it them up since the distance between the two points still remains the same. In any case I really hope this is a software-related bug and can be fixed.

    Does this happen on Bravo/Bravo ROM?

  17. Sometimes my Milestone fails too…

  18. Axis flipping is far more likely to be a software issue than hardware, weather it is this application or the driver

  19. This could be something they did on purpose, maybeeeeee….lets see to get around the patent infringement they thought could arise?

  20. I was planning on getting the nexus shortly after its release on Verizon. I have been waiting well over a year now to enter a new contract and it looks like I’ll be waiting even longer. I guess the next phone to keep my eye on is the Incredible. ((sigh)) why is it so hard for HTC, Motorola, etc. to get things right? Just put Android on the HD2 and bring it to Verizon already!!! ((rips out hair in frustration))

  21. I’m using the Modaco HTC Desire ROM (Alpha 10).

    I just downloaded this and didn’t have any problem.

    I noticed that the developer demonstrates two-handed multi-touch.

    To my knowledge, there aren’t any connectivity or productivity apps that are designed for two handed multi-touch, such as a multi-touch keyboard.

    If people use typical pinch-zoom gestures and have a nightmare on this app, it would seem to be a major issue.

    I’ve never had any pinch-zoom accuracy issues on the shipping/native ROM nor with the Google N1 OTA update.

    The Market comments from N1 users seem about 50-50 on this. But no one discusses if they are mimicing the developer with two hands or if they are using the typical pinch-zoom gestures we use in Maps, Earth, and the Gallery apps.

  22. Tried the app on my Droid — works perfectly!

  23. It’s old news:

    The Nexus One has probably the same kind of sensor as the G1.

  24. Doesn’t cause problems in apps so I don’t care. What I DO care about is the general inaccuracy of the touch screen, e.g. the widely publicized misplacement of the soft button touch zones.

  25. I noticed this when i was playing a gameboid game, because when i was holding the dpad and started holding B, it instantly moved my direction down.

  26. @Robert Green

    Thanks for that response. I didn’t mean to infer that you made an error, I was more curious about the the mechanics of it. Looking at your code and the API docs, it’s pretty straight forward. I thought that I had read something about handling multitouch on the Android Developers Blog, but I think I had confused that with their post on handling hard/soft key presses.

  27. hahahahahaahahah!!!!! same screen of a crappy slow ass device that came out like 2-3 years ago!!!!!!!!!! PATHETIC

  28. sounds like if the issue is consistently flipping the axis you can fix it through software… just add an option or scan the device to see if its nexus one. then flip the axis back.

  29. This confirms weird zooming behaviors I’ve seen in the browser.

    But I also think this is relatively trivial to fix in software if the driver just maintains a history of the prior values and recognizes when the reversal has occurred.

    Is there a multitouch use case in which the points jump and reverse like that?

    If your eyes can recognize it that quickly, so can the driver.

  30. It looks to me more like the guy who wrote the App wrote it using a Droid for test purposes, and by debugging for the Droid introduced issues with the phones using other sensors.

  31. After all the recent defamation about the N1, it seems that this one is true as i reproduced the same behavior with my nexus with Multitouch Visible, MultiTouch paint and qabstract….

  32. @jerry I agree with you so even if it was a hardware side I think it can be fixed with the software

  33. @Simon

    Please don’t take this the wrong way but, you said “After all the recent defamation about the N1, it seems that this one is true as i reproduced the same behavior with my nexus”

    Does that mean that you don’t believe the other problems are real because you are not experiencing them or can’t reproduce them on your N1?

  34. Can someone please confirm that this does not happen on the desire rom?

  35. LOL!

    The iPhone fanboys at that garbage company Battery Powered Games spewing yet another bunch of lies about Android?

    What a bunch of fucking losers.

  36. @burnette: ever played pong multitouch, tried multitouch paint? htc screens really seem to have that issue…at least my hero does

  37. Seems like a compatibility issue, the OS and the screen don’t play nice with each other. Expect an OTA update soon to fix this…

  38. Seems like it was a good decision to wait for the X10 to be released. Only 3 more weeks. =)

  39. @Gib Wallis: You are sure this doesn’t happen on Modaco Desire ROM?

    Guys, if this is the case, this is NOT a hardware issue. OTA update should fix it.

  40. App not available for my Hero on 1.5. SHOCKER!

  41. I belive this is 100% software related.
    i ran this on my htc hero and it just messed up…
    BTW: i used a custom rom :P

  42. So glad I dumped my fresh warranty replacement on ebay for the original cost of the device… My trusty old iPhone 2g will just have to hold me over for a while until something decent comes out for sprint or t-mobile…

  43. 100% not software confirmed by Google Engineers. I’ll stick with my Motorola Droid or until new touch capacitive parts are used.


  44. Guys, if Gib Wallis installed his Desire Rom on his Nexus One, tried this app, and didn’t show this flaw, how could this be a hardware issue??? He kept the same hardware, only swapped out stock Android 2.1 with future Sense UI version.

  45. I particularly have trouble with touch accuracy when I am using the phone in bed…reading RSS feeds on newsrob before I go to sleep. Something about the phone orientation really screws with the touch accuracy. Must do wonders for newsrob ad revenue though as I am constantly hitting their ad at the bottom of the screen instead of the menu softkey.

    This, and the buggy buggy gmail app (missing formatting, truncated emails) are the two big downers of the nexus one & android

  46. I believe the Google employee mean this is not an Android software issue but yet it can be a driver/firmware one.
    However, when i reproduce the behavior it sometime work and sometime don’t, and i fail to understand the underlying reason. The touchscreen can handle it but not sure if the hardware interface is flexible enough to solve it via a driver/firmware patch. wait&see.

    Yes its what i meant.

  47. I could only replicate the issue every once in a while. I have had zero issues with my phone let alone the multitouch.
    There was no wide spread panic until this video surfaced.
    When using the Multitouch Visualizer App by Luke Hutchison I couldn’t find any errors.

    I prefer the double tap over the Multitouch anyway.

    I find it hilarious how some of you are jumping off the ledge or calling this a serious flaw.

  48. Its a hardware issue, the Nexus One(http://www.synaptics.com/about/press/press-releases/synaptics-clearpad-on-nexus-one-smartphone) is using the same ClearPad 2000 capacitive touch screen as the T-mobile G1, can’t believe HTC cut corners like this, they should had been using the ClearPad 3000.

  49. it only has a synaptics clearpad 2000 and that’s the design. it registers an x1 and y1 point where the axis intersect. one you drop a second finger it registers a x2 and y2. it only knows which x goes to which y based on the time they were registered. when the fingers cross and there’s only one x (or y) it loses position.

  50. Same issue on my N1

  51. It`s really serious when it comes to games. I wanted to buy Nexus one, but its alreday 2 months that the issue came and google doesnt solve it yet… dont even gave any clear explanation. How they want to bit iPhone doing that? Thats awful.

  52. Seeing this on a tablet prototype and Droid 2, as well. Apparently nobody’s interested in fixing this, as it’s still happening in the newer devices.

    They’re screwing the pooch when it comes to games. The screen is the primary controller, and it needs to work correctly.

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