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Android Multi-touch Capable, Just Disabled

Gordon Kelly


Android Multi-touch Capable, Just Disabled

Now here's an interesting turn up right on the day I pitted Android against Mobile Mac OS X: it turns out the former can do multi-touch...

According to blog site RyeBrye, hidden code (most likely first for testing then buried for Apple patent infringement reasons) is stored deep inside Android and can be dug out and - with some coding nous - enabled! Of course it takes two to tango and intriguingly, the competent-if-old-school T-Mobile G1 also apparently has a hidden trick or two with a Synaptics dual touch capable screen.

As RyeBrye explains: "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."

A code print out and debugging output have been published on the site including command information for 'One finger held constant, the other finger swirled around','2 Fingers flicking left, then right', '2 fingers rotating counter-clockwise', '2 fingers (separate hands) - one finger moving up, while the other moves down', '2 fingers - one held constant and varying pressure - another finger tapping at various points on the screen and also varying pressure'.

Of course - whether this all falls down or not (and his update shows signs there will be numerous snags along the way) - the key point is existing handsets and mobile phone software already out there is capable of emulating multi-touch but chooses not to. If patents are the issue then something needs to be worked out fast because right now this is one of the key elements in holding back rival touchscreen handsets...


RybeBrye Blog Posting

Robert Elliot

November 18, 2008, 9:22 pm

"If patents are the issue then something needs to be worked out fast"

If Apple have a valid patent, how can something be worked out? Apple are hardly going to license the technology to their competitors, and I can't see them being forced to either when there are so many other input methods and they have a small slice of the mobile device market.

Mind you, personally I strongly disagree with this whole patenting of UIs and input methods. But the Americans seem to think it's appropriate, and that's what counts.


November 18, 2008, 9:57 pm

Surely Aple dont have patents on EVERY possible implentation of multi-touch? HP have brought out drivers for their HP Touchsmart PC's so they cant have patents on all the multi-touch options, could it be that google are just waiting for someone to code multi-touch for them and provide a phone that can support it?


November 18, 2008, 10:32 pm

@ Robert Elliot - I think Creative would have liked it if Apple had taken that view before they put in the scroll wheel on their iPods... but they used the technology anyway and then settled the patent issue post event.


November 19, 2008, 3:14 am

there must be a time limit on the patent or something?

like Apple has exclusivity of multi touch devices for 5 years or something?

they cant have it for ever can they?!

Shi An De

November 19, 2008, 1:42 pm

@ Alex.rar

I believe patents last for 20 years from the date of grant. Apple will most likely have secured a patent before the iPhone or iPod touch were released, but that still leaves them with a considerable period of exclusivity.

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