Apple: "Don't Use Multi-Touch on Android!" Google: "Okay..."

We've heard whispers relating to this one for a while, but now VentureBeat (via MacRumors) is putting text-to-screen about it:

Apple, which of course makes the signature multi-touch mobile device, the iPhone, apparently asked Google not to implement it, and Google agreed, an Android team member tells us.

Apparently, Google didn't want to risk their relationship with Apple or the iPhone. Google's CEO is on Apple's board, and Google has been releasing iPhone initiative after iPhone initiative these days.

Same Android team members is said to pleased at how this has turned out, given the recent legal noise around the Palm Pre, which decidedly does use multi-touch in almost identical -- perhaps infringing-ly identical -- manner to the iPhone. Though many behind the Palm Pre, like former iPod czar Jon Rubinstein came from Apple, their relationship is not said to still be as strong.

Check out the full article for more.

So, should Google have agreed to Apple's request to remove multi-touch from the Android? Should Palm? We still don't know the strength of Apple's multi-touch patent portfolio, or portfolio's lined up against it in defense, but if the Pre suddenly ships without the functionality shown in the CES Keynote, will it be a deal breaker for anyone?

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter,, Google+.

More Posts



← Previously

Monday Humor: iPhone Attacked! Cartoon Short

Next up →

Gizmodo: Another Next Gen iPhone Concept -- MacBook Air Inspired

There are 24 comments. Add yours.

kaelendra says:

Nopes they shouldn't have imho.... it's dumb... not like they were the first to use touch screens or only one... there's plenty of phones out with that. What if palm'd gotten a basic patent out to cover toch on a phone completely like appe's trying.... apple wouldn't be happy then.
Both Google and Palm should be able to use multitouch with sensitivity to fingers.... to tell them not would be as if microsoft were to get away with saying no one can use a browser other than explorer on a windows machine imho.

The Reptile says:

Pre's multi-touch abilities are a small part of it's selling point. The integration of all a user's content, alerting and the multi-tasking are IMHO the main selling points of the device. Multi-touch is a nice to have but Palm is selling an updated version of the traditional Palm experience - simplicity and powerful data management. Apple owns no patent to that so Palm will be fine.

Steve says:

Apple should rule and dominate others because they all suck and do everything half-azz.
Microsoft forcing IE on everyone is totally different because it just sucks.

Infoliberation says:

While it may not be a deal breaker, and as an iPhone lover, I gotta say, it perturbs me to no end. I enjoy the competition, that is how innovation moves forward. Stifling a functionality that Microsoft's touchscreen, HP's touchscreen, already use seems too domineering a position. For crissake Apple didn't even invent the multitouch. These are age old patent wars that continue to haunt ingenuity today. I admit, patent hoarding is a lucrative business indeed; I am just irked by this one in particular.

Steve says:

iPhone Sucks. So is steve! Wait im steve?! I suck :(

Blake says:

Let them co-exist. I enjoy my iPhone too much to even think about switching. I'm sure not everyone feels the same way but can you really patent the way I move my fingers across my screen? I know I know it's the technology behind it but come on, give it up.

TheO.Z. says:

Actually no, it's the IP not the technology they're worried about. They -do- want you to only be able to perform multi-fingered gestures on an iPhone because to Apple that defines the interface.
I find this all pretty retarded. The iPhone does a heck of a lot of things exactly the same as any number of phones out there including Palm's, in ways they have patents for. There isn't really any disputing it.
Given Apple's hubris in this situation, I actually want this to go to trial, and Apple to lose including a counter suit by Palm for their infringed patents that forces Apple to pay royalties per unit sold. That would be the most fitting.

Steve says:

Blake is right. Yes i also love my iphone but its shortcomings is really getting on my nerves. And this patent thing is crazy.

Daniel says:

U are speaking nonsense. What a ridiculous attitude to have. Get your head out of your arse and look around, there are plenty of companies doing amazing stuff, not just apple. There are even companies doing things called cut and paste and video recording, amazing stuff.

Steve says:

At daniel, are you reffering to the first steve or second steve? Im steve the 2nd. The alter ego of 1st steve :)

Steve says:

iPhone is a good phone! Best multimedia device so far. Copy and paste i can live without but not able to communicate or recieve and send files to other device is just pure nonsense. What was apple thinking? Maybe they want all people to use iphone? Heck i'll throw away my iphone once the pre hit the market and erase this site from my bookmarks.

Steve says:

@Daniel: Nobody's doing anything amazing except Apple. They all suck and you're brainwashed. :lol:

sting7k says:

Maybe this was the trade-off. Apple says, Don't use multi-touch on Android and we will let you use that private API for the voice search on your Google Mobile App.

kaelendra says:

I want more competition not necessarily for switching but because eventually everyones likely to be using devices like the pre, iphone, adndroid based phones, and htcs phones... Itll happen I think and part of whatll keep phone costs down (including) plans is diversity... Evening those that think apple rocks and everything else sucks can benefit from this. No brainer in what to hope for imho.

Amon says:

Multi-touch is good to have but with the feature set coming on board with the Pre I wouldnt skip it even if palm has to remove multi touch. Of course this is assuming (i am pretty it will) Pre will do all that it has set out to! And like Steve said iPhone's shortcomjngs are grtting on my nerve! Am sure Apple is working on something too, just have see if it can do enough in time for Pre. And not on new hardware, mr jobs make my existing one work, read update!

daniel says:

Way too many Steve's on this post!! :)
"Nobody’s doing anything amazing except Apple", this is the Steve, who is either being paid by apple, has mental issues or simply wants to start an argument, either way, its a blinkered view of the world of technology

Steve says:

Wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong. :roll:

Dominic says:

You can just hack the G1 to get multi-touch... Just like I had to hack my iPhone to get copy-paste and record video... My point... who cares what the big evil companies (Apple, Microsoft, Palm... and yes even "do no evil" Google is just as evil as the rest of them) I you spend the money they are asking us for smartphones, then they are ours to do as we please with them... multi-touch, copy/paste, tether to our notebooks, record video etc etc etc... So regardless of whether the pre comes out with multi-touch or not... if the hardware is capable, the users will find a way! And I'd like to applaud all the valiant hackers out there who stuck it to Mr Jobs and liberated my iPhone for me!

frog says:

Some of my most used Apps: YouTube/Maps/Mail/Calendar... are all powered by Google in some way on my iPhone. It keeps me using their products on the desktop, and hence seeing their advertising. This is what Android is all about, getting people to use Google services - and hence advertising. Pushing the iPhone to Yahoo or some other competitor is not in Googles interests ; they give Android away remember, so it's not any loss to them if someone choses an iPhone over Android - if both are pushing Google services.

WHat3v3r says:

TheO.Z said it the best. I got into the comments section to type up my own comment but after seeing my comment has already been echoed, I do feel the need to say 'I second that' Apple needs to stop acting like a whiny first wife. You got the dick of your husband solely for a few years, now let others play with it as well, it's the fate of the nature! (wait..I should have stopped writing after 'I second that!'), I shouldn't hit the submit Commen

Blake says:

I just saw a UPS white board commercial and the guy that draws used a multi-touch gesture to zoom out on a global map. I wonder what Apple thinks of this?

Steve says:

What apple should be doing is release an update a major one and put some of the missing functionality add a little multi tasking i mean a real multi tasking for 3rd party applications. Let 3rd party apps have deeper access to the hardware so we can enjoy our freaking phone! File explorer would be nice. Please apple? And let the competition use multi touch gesture for crying out loud! Competition is good for end user even for die hard fruit fanboys out there. Peace

Giovanni says:

After all, i can understand all about the economic situation for technology or friendship between google and apple but i need multitouch API! Is there something good in the android api wich allows me to develop with or have i to implement a multitouch application by myself using only the touch-api(implementing an algo with the single-touch to simulate the multitouch) inside classes as VIEW and CANVAS?

temp van insurance says:

Hi, i feel that i noticed you visited my site so i got here to return the favor?.I'm attempting to in finding things to enhance my website!I suppose its ok to make use of some of your concepts!!