G1 Can Handle Multi-Touch Afterall?

Show an iPhone user the Android browser on your G1 and they’re likely to point out one thing rather quickly. “Hey, my iPhone does multi-touch, yo.  Why can’t your Android?“  Long out as a difference in design, the Apple counterpart was able to brag about this simple feature which was missing from the G1.  Or is it?

The folks over at RyeBry have done some sleuthing and found that with some work, the G1 shows it should be capable of two finger touching.

Then unix_infidel pointed out that there was some stuff in the synaptics driver that was commented out… which – was true. (the file is located in drivers/input/touchscreen/synaptics_i2c_rmi.c of the msm kernel source – you can see the git info for the msm kernel online)

By uncommenting a bunch of lines in the synaptics touchscreen driver, and recompiling my kernel and replacing my boot.img – I was able to enable the debug logging of the touch input that tracks 2 fingers.

He goes on to talk about the various code and debugging output to support his argument.  Google evangelist Dan Morril brings up a few counterpoints as to why it’s not in.  We’ve come up with a few ideas of our own.

  • Someone else owns a patent of some sort.
  • HTC didn’t want it in this model.
  • Android wasn’t completely ready for it.
  • Nothing was written to take advantage of it yet.

What do you guys think?

Were you surprised at all to hear that multi-touch is hiding in the background?

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  1. One of Dan Morrill’s comments was:

    “Even if HTC got a deal on a multi-touch panel and substituted it in, the specification is still single-touch”

    “The G1 was never specified to be a multi-touch device. Since it was th first Android device, we therefore didn’t bother to build a multi-touch framework into the API”

    Although, to be fair, earlier he said:
    “If you have one finger on the pad and tap with another finger, the G1 cannot detect the second tap” – which I proved to be wrong…

  2. Why is this news? I believe at the launch event the multi-touch question was brought up and it was pointed out that it is capable and simply not implemented. I believe there is a legal issue with Apple on that and/or auto orientation through the accelerometer.

  3. I had heard that there was an IP issue — that Apple owns the rights to the multi-touch design.

    I haven’t looked into it, however, but a lot of news sites had been reporting that from before the G1 launch (Wired and Cnet, I think).

  4. It’s the patent. Apple owns the best multi-touch patent in the world.

    It’s hard to invent another system of handling multi-touch than the one used in Apple iPhone.

  5. Well, the patent database is open for all to browse, but I believe that Synaptic probably controls any patents to do with multitouch. Perhaps Apple owns some cross patents, e.g. multotouch + browser? Or Google was just trying to be different? The Google interface dose ahandle one handed operation a bit better. That being said, I would like the option for both.

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