First look at a multitouch Android phone

Over the weekend, a proof of concept and downloadable demos for multi-touch on the Android open source mobile operating system were made available to the community.

In the time that I've been an Android user and owner of the HTC/T-Mobile G1, I've seen one thing happen dozens of times: when people ask to play with my phone, one of the first things they do is open the browser and try the iPhone "screen pinch." I don't know why, but it has happened literally dozens of times. Work and social colleagues, strangers, male, female, young and old, from the random people sitting next to me in airports to BlackBerry-faithful family members, almost everyone does it.

When I explain that it is not a multitouch device, the reaction has been uniform disappointment. I don't even bother showing them the magnifying glass feature, I just explain that the phone can do it, as well as a number of other things, but Android is still young and waiting for some smart developer to unleash it. This is usually followed by a reminder that Android is open source, so almost anything is technically fair game.

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Over the weekend, Luke Hutchison posted a proof of concept and working demos for multitouch, which can be installed on any G1 (with custom firmware, of course.)

Hutchison goes on to say he doesn't think the G1 will ever officially receive multitouch abilities, "Although there is a driver in the kernel tree for an iPhone-like screen...it is unlikely that the G1 will ever get official support for multitouch from Google in its lifetime, because it was never designed as a multitouch device, and there are some limitations to multitouch on this device. Google will also not accept upstream this specific workaround solution to hack multitouch onto the G1, understandably so, as no multitouch API has yet been proposed or agreed on."

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