Home One More Thing: Multitouch on Nexus One Is Just a Hack Away (VIDEO)

One More Thing: Multitouch on Nexus One Is Just a Hack Away (VIDEO)

The only thing preventing Google’s Nexus One phone from supporting multitouch features might be Apple’s patents.

Allow me to explain: There is nothing in the hardware of this device to prevent multitouch as evinced by Google’s comment this morning at their press conference. When asked if the Nexus One would one day support multitouch, a Google rep responded, “We’ll consider it.” In a word, this means that the hardware is ready for users’ pinching and zooming, but the current iteration of Google’s software is locked to prohibit multitouch for legal reasons. We give the hackers of the mobile world a couple days to hack the device – after all, it’s already been done on the Droid.

Here’s a video showing multitouch on a Droid:

And here’s how that was accomplished. European hackers figured out how to jailbreak the device a scant month after its release. In the States,the folks at AllDroid sussed out how to port the web browser from the Motorola Milestone – which does support multitouch – over to the Droid. Granted, the hack only works for web browsers, but it’s a significant improvement for those who can live with a bricked phone.

The hack requires the would-be multitouch hero to get root access to the phone and install and delete certain components. Clearly, this user runs the risk of breaking the device and may violate Motorola’s TOS and void the warranty.

All of the above applies to the Droid. However, the same stipulations that prevent multitouch on that device also apply to the Nexus One: It’s not a hardware issue; the software is simply locked. So, we’re likely looking at a wait of a few days to see who wants to risk a $500+ device in the quest for an Android-powered multitouch mobile via TOS-violating hacks.

Apple’s involvement with the stalling or prevention of more and better multitouch devices has been a topic of speculation in the mobile gadget press since last year, when a group of several key patents for specific gestures were published. Since then, several multitouch devices, such as Palm’s Pre, have been released without legal fanfare. Still, some speculate that Google’s holding out on multitouch for legal reasons.

“I think at this point that’s more of a legal consideration than a technical one, since many phones that run Android have the capability of supporting multitouch on a hardware level,” wrote Jason Chen of Gizmodo when he toyed with the device last month.

And Chris Ziegler of Engadget said, “This is still very much a sensitive subject – but at least we have some confirmation that it’s a software limitation alone… there’s definitely some logic (probably legal logic, but logic nonetheless) behind which devices are getting it in which markets.”

What do you think – is this a patent issue? Or is the software simply not ready for public consumption yet? Better yet, if you had one of these devices, would you jailbreak it for multitouch capabilities? Let us know in the comments.

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