The past few weeks have been a blessing for Google Android users who have longed for official multitouch support on the mobile platform. Last week, Google released Android updates that enabled multitouch on the Nexus One, as well as multitouch in Google Maps for Motorola Droid users.
The multitouch updates would also allow users to use the “pinch” and “zoom” gestures made famous by the iPhone. Many speculated that Google was avoiding the gestures for fear of Apple’s potential patent — although that hasn’t stopped the likes of Palm from including pinching and zooming gestures on the Pre and Pixi phones.
The update will also include Google Goggles — a visual search app for Android that generates search results from photos. Unfortunately for Droid users, they won’t be getting the Nexus One’s revamped home screen or active wallpapers. Perhaps as a small consolation, they will receive the weather and news widgets from the Nexus One.
If there’s one thing Google needs to resolve in Android before the end of the year, it’s how the company has handled multitouch so far. With the initial roll out of Android devices, Google left multitouch support up to device manufacturers. We expected Google to take a more proactive approach with multitouch in Android 2.0 since there was talk of multitouch being included in for some time.
It’s possible that Apple will raise hell regarding the pinch and zoom functionality in these updates. But if Google wants to successfully compete against the iPhone, they can’t continue to play it safe. Multitouch is an expected feature in any modern touchscreen device, and Google has to show Apple that it won’t allow their competitors to dictate Android’s features.