launched the Nexus One Android phone a few weeks ago, support for multitouch gestures like pinch-to-zoom was mysteriously missing from the phone's feature set in the United States. Starting today, however, Google will begin to ship an over-the-air software update to all Nexus One phones in the U.S. that will enable multitouch pinch-and-zoom functionality in the browser, gallery and maps application. Until now, Nexus One owners had to resort to a hack to enable multitouch on their phones.When Google
Google plans to roll this update out slowly. All Nexus One owners should receive a notification about the availability of the update for their phone by the end of the week.
Oddly enough, Nexus One (and Motorola Droid) users outside of the U.S. have always been able to make use of these multitouch features by default. It's not clear why Google decided to enable multitouch on the Nexus One now, but we have asked Google for a statement and will update this post once we hear from them.
Update: We just heard back from a Google spokesperson. Here is Google's official reasoning behind making this change now:
Looking around the mobile industry, from Apple to Palm to HTC and Motorola - it's clear that pinch-to-zoom technology has become a standard and popular way for users to interact with their mobile phones. Likewise, Android users can now truly benefit from this capability with the availability of Android 2.1, which powers a new class of devices with larger touchscreens and more interactive features. Unlike past devices, these phones have the processing power to deliver pinch-to-zoom, while still providing a great user experience. Based on these new capabilities and numerous requests from Android users, we decided to provide pinch-to-zoom capabilities with this new over-the-air software update for Nexus One devices.
More Updates: Google Navigation, Google Goggles, Fix for 3G Connectivity
In addition to the new multitouch functionality, this update will also bring significant new features to the Google Maps application. Starred items and search suggestions will now be synchronized with maps.google.com, for example. In addition, Google Navigation - Google's turn-by-turn GPS app - will now get a night mode that automatically changes the colors on your screen at night to make the screen easier to read.
Google will also now ship Google Goggles as a default application on the Nexus One. Google Goggles is a surprisingly useful tool that allows you to take pictures of landmarks to initiate a search, for example, or to scan business cards and automatically populate Google Contacts with this data.
Early adopters of the Nexus One often complained about issues with 3G connectivity. According to Google, this new update should improve 3G connectivity on the phone.