Google announced a software update to the Nexus One today. Yes, the 3G fix is in there, but that’s not all. Multitouch capability for the Browser, Maps and Gallery are there too! Will Apple have anything to say about this?


Multitouch just got multi-interesting. We all knew that Google was working with HTC and T-Mobile for a fix to the pesky 3G stability issues on the Nexus One, but the update is getting a wee bit more. Actually, a whole lot more when you consider that multitouch isn’t typically supported on the Google apps in Android. It is now — or at least, it will be when I get my over-the-air update. Engadget caught the news on the official Nexus One blog run by Google. Here’s a quick hit list of the updates that are rolling out this week:

  • Google Goggles will now appear as a default app. This is the software that allows you to search by snapping pictures of objects with the camera on the Nexus One. I’ve tried it on a G1 and the results were hit or miss, but I expect improvements over time.
  • Google Maps is updated to version 3.4. Starred map items will sync between handset and computer, search suggestions from Google history appear, and there’s a new night mode in Google Navigation — the display will change automatically at night. These improvements appear to further extend a seamless experience in Google services between the desktop world and handheld world.
  • Improvements to the 3G connectivity. This is what nearly everyone’s been waiting for, so the other features are almost icing on the cake.
  • Pinch-to-zoom functionality. Google’s enabling it in their Browser, Gallery and Maps software. I’ve been living without it, but the mobile experience is generally better with multitouch, so I’m looking forward to this.

The only question left is: why now? Why is Google choosing this moment to add multitouch? Actually, this begets even more questions. Will Apple have anything to say about it? Will other Android handsets see the same updates soon?

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. Sounds like Google didn’t appreciate Steve’s comments the other day.

    1. :) Ya.

      Nice updates for a phone no one bought.

  2. So stoked on the Pinch & Zoom. In fact usually that’s what friends with iPhones would knock was the lack of it. Now if I could only get update sooner rather than later….. hmmmm..

  3. Steve will not appreciate this at all. Time to LAWYER UP Mr. Goooooooooooogle.

    Steve may serve up a C&D and a knuckle sandwich on those EVIL bastards.

    1. Calm down, Rock. Everyone and their mother does multitouch.

  4. What would Apple “say about it”? Multipoint user interaction gestures are ancient history (as in 15+ years ago), and not invented by Apple.

    1. No argument, Craig. I don’t mean to imply that Apple invented it. However, multitouch on Android handsets outside of the U.S. in countries where software can’t be patented. And while Palm uses multitouch in webOS, Google hasn’t yet enabled multitouch on their U.S. phones for some reason. Until now, that is. It’s not entirely illogical to assume that the feature wasn’t there either due to enforceable patent concerns or perhaps due to some private agreement between Google and Apple. Of course, there could be other reasons as well, but I think my question is a logical one to ask.

      1. Wow, so much hate over a situation and opinion. Clearly, you know why Google handsets in the U.S. don’t have multitouch while the same handsets available in Europe do. I don’t, so perhaps you can share a small part of your knowledge and tell me why that is?

      2. Darwin, there is a reason Google hadn’t enabled it. But we don’t know it. And Apple did look to have patents in this area. Perhaps uninforceable amd/or subject to invalidation, but Palm rolled the dice. They’re small potatoes, though. We’ll see if anything comes of this. Either way, it’s good for Anroid owners. Looking forward to the Supersonic…

      3. The first WIndows Mobile phone to have a capacitive digitizer capable of multitouch was the HTC HD2, recently released. It only has support for a capacitive digitizer because HTC developed WinMo support for it on its own, not because WinMo can support it. The first WinMo version to receive support for multitouch is the version just released this week, 6.5.3. So no, WinMo phones haven’t done multitouch for “some time” as you state.

      4. I thought Erick Tseng in the interview on Engadget explained this well enough. Andy Rubin wanted Android to be functional with one-handed operation; thus no multi-touch. He also explained that because they do not have control over the mods to the OS and phone manufacturer, if they choose to modify the OS and put multi-touch on it and sell somewhere else (e.g., Moto Milestone), they do not control that. I see Google’s change here in the US merely to the fact that they are listening to the masses and giving them what they want.

  5. I’ll go out on a limb here and say, “Nice move.” If Apple wants to bite, a lot of media focus shifts from the iPad and onto Google/Nexus One/Android/etc. Sure, Google’s lawyers (on retainer anyway) will rack up impressive hours, but that is offset by a lot of free media attention. Attention, I might add, that won’t come across as overtly competitive to Google’s new mobile partners (or are we still baffled at the Nexus One had a non-existent marketing effort?). I think Apple can and probably should ignore this one.

  6. So now lets just wait for them to put in native support for Exchange security policies so that they can actually be used in a corporate environment.

  7. No mention of whether this is dependent upon a T-Mobile account.
    Where does this leave us WiFi-only or AT&T orphans?
    Do you know, Kevin?

    1. Sam, I’ve already read reports of Nexus One owners with an AT&T SIM getting the update. And Google’s own support page indicates that updates will also be available over Wi-Fi: http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/android/thread?tid=47e1ec5e03751787&hl=en

      I used a T-Mobile G1 without a SIM for months and I received OTA Android updates over Wi-Fi, so this practice is consistent. Hope that helps!

      1. I received the OTA update over the AT&T network yesterday afternoon.

        General note – I love my Nexus One. I had been using an iPhone 3G since it’s release, but wanted to get to know Android and was excited when the Nexus One was announced. I can honestly say that there is nothing I miss from the iPhone with the exception of a few apps that my company has built for clients. Before getting the Nexus One I had thought I’d probably use it for a few days then switch back to my iPhone for a few days, etc – but there’s no need.

        The comment from @DANNO is not totally inaccurate (I’ve ready that the Google sold 1/8 the amount Nexus One handsets that Apple sold when it released the iPhone), but you have to give Google credit for releasing an excellent phone with limited penetration – only official carrier supported in the US is T-Mobile, which has marginal market share vs AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.

    2. If you don’t want to wait for the OTA update you can manually update your nexus one instructions here: http://bit.ly/cHn75r

      I updated mine without any problems, YMMV GL:)

  8. besides pinch to zoom, scrolling in the browser is much faster because they turned off anti-aliasing during scrolling.

  9. I hope this also includes some fixes to the POP3/IMAP functionality, which has a whole bunch of issues. (Notably I have to reboot my phone every few days in order to keep receiving messages, and deletions work only about 50% of the time.)

  10. You can also update it manually.


Comments have been disabled for this post