Speaking of Android and mobile, when it comes to reliable multi-touch on inexpensive devices, iOS has really been the only game in town. As I’ve noted previously, competing requires a usable multi-touch chipset. It seems one such chipset is making its way to a shipping product. Matt Gallant points us to our friends at Engadget:
Atmel confirms the Samsung Galaxy Tab uses its maXTouch touchscreen controller

Atmel, for their part, claim their technology is more responsive than competitors like Apple, offering both support for stylus input and faster response times – the latter interesting for music applications. Given how complex touch technology is, in terms of hardware and software alike, I’ll believe it once I test it – but that may be soon.

Update – this chip is also on the Droid Incredible and Evo4, says alien8 in comments. So we do have devices to test. The Tab has a bigger screen area, different hardware, and because this is Android and not made by one company, a different vendor software implementation, so it’ll be interesting to try it, as well.

The news is certainly relevant not only to Android fans, but anyone hoping multi-touch will start to appear in more platforms. And for music input applications, it could be great both for something like TouchOSC for Android (as well as potentially prompting other apps), and perhaps browser-based multi-touch control that could work across operating systems.

For the record, a few specs on the Galaxy Tab; thanks, Samsung PR.

Android 2.2 (Froyo)
7.0 inch TFT-LCD, WSVGA (1024 x 600)
Cortex A8 1.0GHz Application Processor with PowerVR SGX540
3 MP Camera with Auto-Focus and LED Flash
1.3MP front camera for Video Telephony
30 pin connector
WiFi 802.11n / Bluetooth® 3.0
Gyroscope sensor, Geo-magnetic sensor, Accelerometer, Light sensor
16G / 32G internal memory with up to 32G external memory slot
RAM: 512 MB

I’m no fan of proprietary connectors, but the other specs look good. Correction: it’s actually a standard connector — it just wasn’t identified as such. See Matt in comments — it’s a PDMI connector, which could be the answer to all our problems. (Think break-out connection to standard USB3 and USB2, plus video out, among other things.) That is, provided we get any developer support for it; otherwise, it doesn’t matter what those 30 pins can do.

Anyone know if Bluetooth 3 is any better at real-time applications than previous implementations? Side note: a lead engineer from Sony Ericsson last night assured me over dinner I’m reading too much into the spec, so I’m going to shut my mouth and do some actual testing with Bluetooth and MIDI, with some help, to see what happens.

  • Roald Baudoux

    Does it have any sense of pressure / finger size ?

  • http://www.myspace.com/jlamores mcpepe

    no USB???

  • http://regend.com Regend

    i'm still confused about the low processors being used for these type of devices. i'm also not a fan of proprietary connectors.

  • http://ghmetcalfe.com Graham

    The info about Android on Tablets is a bit disappointing right now. Hopefully they'll clean up their act soon.

    http://liliputing.com/2010/09/google-android-isnt

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @Graham: I don't think that particular article is relevant here. The Galaxy Tab has already been tested to run Android apps just fine, provided the developer knows what they're doing. (and if not, you may… encounter other problems)

    Archos is a bad example, because it's not certified to run Android and lacks the Market… and, frankly, some of those are pretty awful boxes. The Samsung is an official, Market-supporting device.

    Schmidt specifically referred to Android tablets in an interview the other day. The message from Google hasn't been explicit, but the CEO is making it sound like they're going to do Chrome and Android alongside one another, and it's readily apparent the OEMs want Android on tablets.

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/alien8 alien8

    Well if you want to test now apparently the droid incredible an evo 4g already have a maxtouch chip in em. http://androidandme.com/2010/04/news/htc-incredib

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/alien8 alien8

    i happen to have an incredible right here btw. anyone know any good android apps that support multitouch?

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    For anyone interested, I'll send out some multitouch code to test — hopefully next week. (communicating with alien8)

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    And yes, I'll release free code. ;)

  • http://ardour.org/ Paul Davis

    is it sweat resistant?

  • http://leisuresonic.com/ Christopher Penrose

    I'm still confused as to why some want a tablet that will burn their hands. I am happy that my iPad has an ARM in it as it was cool to the touch all summer long; but admittedly, I have often been using a stand. While cost may be an issue I like to stress how great a tablet is as a complement to a laptop and it makes a poor replacement. Soon you will be able to pickup an Android tablet and a laptop for less than the price of a Nord Lead.

  • Random Chance

    Great, just after seeing that Atmel had touch capable development kits out, I come across real world products using it. I believe in the initial stages of tablets we need all the diversity we can get (yes, even on the software front although that seems to be counter productive). Only experimentation on the scale of the consumer market will really weed out the overpriced gadgets from the useful products. Apple probably has a head start but there are dozens of things other manufacturers could do different or better than Apple's current tablet offering. I'm waiting for a tablet that runs a (semi-)free OS, has a big enought screen and really works like the Star Trek PADDs in that you can use a stylus in addition to multitouch and you don't feel the need to print so much any more but instead read it comfortably on the pad. If it can be used as a controller for music so much the better, but I guess I'm a bit too old school to really have fun with virtual control elements.

  • Matt

    Peter and Regend,

    That's not a proprietary connector, I think it's standardized connector PDMI.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PDMI

    If this connector sees good adoption amongst non-Apple mobile devices, it'll be a good thing. One connection to get charging, audio out, and data over USB (like midi, hopefully)

  • http://ghmetcalfe.com Graham

    Random Chance…"you can use a stylus in addition to multitouch" I have to agree. I just bought an iMac at the Apple store and had to sign on an iPodTouch POP device with my fingertip. Awkward to say the least. I think devices should accommodate stylus entry with HWR for data entry and note taking, and support multitouch for appropriate applications (i.e. music). At least that would be more ideal for the way I use handheld devices.

  • griotspeak

    @Graham

    They use the pogo stylus at the store for signing as well. it's just that they are hard to keep since they are so small.

  • http://www.sensomusic.com/usine/ nay-seven

    Thanks for the info peter , their ( atmel )technology seems quiet good and reactive , i'll surely contact them , cause we really need simple multitouch screen , i mean no computers with special OS , just some good and correct price multitouch screen ! then you plug it in your computer with the OS you want , that's all..the only I've found right now is the 3M one but 1500€ is not correct and affordable for me and many musicians so..

  • http://www.vstreview.com Dood

    Android is becoming a full blown operating system in its own right.

  • RichardL

    FYI: The Atmel maXtouch chip is apparently also used in the Samsung Galaxy S series phones.