We’ve got further compelling evidence Apple doesn’t really own multi-touch and multi-touch gestures — and that other devices and interfaces will press forward (which is a good thing for everyone). Lest you think I’m straying too far from creating digital music, by the way, I think this means lots of new music apps – as musicians have devoured multi-touch more than any other group (and certainly have used it for the coolest stuff).
I am concerned about how multi-touch innovation will wrangle with over-zealous intellectual property legal wrangling. But hopefully I made it clear that, even with my concerns about Apple, the report that Google had pulled multi-touch capabilities to please Apple was full of question marks.
Luke Hutchison is more of an expert in this field than any Silicon Valley rumor reporter. Luke pulled off the kernel module hack that turns the Android G1 into a multi-touch gesture-capable device (with, incidentally, some examples that have tantalizing possibilities for musical applications). He has detailed instructions on that, if you’re interested – and his familiarity with the code gives him a compelling argument that Google did not cave to Apple – and Apple may not even have relevant patents in this case.
It’s worth reading his whole story as it’s full of technical details as far as multi-touch’s future on G1, but here’s the executive summary as far as Apple blocking multi-touch on Android:
(1) The G1 was simply never intended to be a multi-touch device.
(2) Apple’s multitouch patent may not even cover the pinch gesture.
(3) Google *is* interested in multitouch capabilities, it’s just nowhere near the top of their priority list.
(4) Google will deal with legal issues if and when they come up, but that hardly stops them doing something they think should be done.
(5) Apparently the driver for a resistive MT-capable/iPhone-like touchscreen was checked into the git kernel tree after the 1.0 release, so we now have (at least?) two MT-capable drivers in the tree.
In other words, if you make an iClone, expect to hear from Apple legal. If you just want to use or develop multi-touch devices and interfaces, rest easy – because even if Apple decides to make trouble, they’re likely facing even more multi-touch gesture-controlled devices and law teams to back them up.
Definitely worth reading, at Luke’s blog:
The Android Multi-Touch Conspiracy… and more tinfoil hats
Zoom-Zoom-Zoom — Get Multi-Touch Zooming Support on your T-Mobile G1 TODAY (and by the way, you can hack the kernel on new G1s without the Android developer unit?)