Android Multi-touch Capable, Just Disabled

An open source approach can reveal some wonderful things...

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

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