Google Feb. 2 said it is adding a multitouch mechanism and a software fix to improve 3G connectivity on its Nexus One smartphone. Users may now pinch-to-zoom on the smartphone's core browser, gallery and Google Maps applications. Also, Google Maps will be updated to version 3.4, which includes starred items synchronized with the desktop version of Google Maps; personalized search suggestions; and night mode in Google Maps Navigation. Finally, the Google Goggles visual search application will now be available directly on the device by launching it from the Nexus One All Apps menu.
Google is adding
a multitouch mechanism and a software fix to improve 3G connectivity on
its Nexus One smartphone, fulfilling two of the most common customer requests from
the device since the company began selling it one month ago.
Google on Feb. 2 said it has begun pushing multitouch and
other software updates over the air to customers who purchased the Nexus One
through Google's Webstore for $529 unlocked or $179 with a two-year contract
Customers who bought the phone since Google began selling it
through its online retail store Jan. 5 have complained about the
lack of native multitouch utilities on the device. To wit, users may now pinch-to-zoom on the smartphone's core
browser, gallery and Google Maps applications.
Shortly after Google unveiled
the Nexus One at a launch event, members of the media grilled Google on why the
Nexus One, the first smartphone based on the Android 2.1 operating system, did
not come multitouch ready.
Andy Rubin, vice president of engineering for Android, said
at the time Google was considering adding it in the future (multitouch came
ready-to-use on the HTC Droid Eris). However, this further fueled speculation
that Google had an agreement with Apple not to include multitouch on certain
eWEEK asked Google Feb. 2 why there was no multitouch mechanism
on Nexus One at launch. A Google spokesperson said that mobile phones from Apple,
Palm, HTC and Motorola have made it clear that pinch-to-zoom technology has
become a standard way for users to interact with their mobile phones. The
"Likewise, Android users can now truly benefit from
this capability with the availability of Android 2.1, which powers a new class
of devices with larger touch screens and more interactive features. Unlike past
devices, these phones have the processing power to deliver pinch-to-zoom, while
still providing a great user experience. Based on these new capabilities and
numerous requests from Android users, we decided to provide pinch-to-zoom
capabilities with this new over-the-air software update for Nexus One devices."
Asked if there were any legal issues holding up the
multitouch, the spokesperson added: "We are not going to comment on our
relations with partners, but we think pinch-to-zoom will be good for our users,
and many other companies already use this technology."
The pinch-to-zoom also comes two weeks after a hacker
modified his Nexus One to do multitouch and
those instructions to the public with a caveat to install at their own
risk. Modifying mobile devices tends to break carrier contracts.
To address the issue of spotty 3G service
, often attributed to 3G service provider
T-Mobile, Google is also pushing out
a fix to improve 3G connectivity on some Nexus One phones. Google noted:
"In order to access the update, you will receive a
message on your phone's notification bar. Just download the update, wait for it
to install, and you should be all set." This fix won't be immediate,
rolling out gradually to phones over the course of the week.
It also looks as though Google is fortifying its Nexus
One service support team,
a job ad for a Phone Support Program Manager for Android and the Nexus
One. This comes after e-mailed requests for Nexus One assistance went
unanswered for as much as three days.
In other updates for the Nexus One, Google Maps will be
updated to version 3.4, which includes
starred items synchronized with the desktop version of Google Maps; personalized
search suggestions; and night mode in Google Maps Navigation.
Finally, the Google Goggles
visual search application will now be available directly on the
device by launching it from the Nexus One All Apps menu. Users no longer have
to navigate to Android Market and download it.