On at least a few occasions, Android developers have mentioned to me that the multi-touch sensors on certain Android handsets — especially the Nexus One — seemed a bit.. flaky. I’d had nothing but solid experiences while dabbling with multi-touch in all of the apps I could find that support it, so I chalked it up as a coding error on the developer’s part until something a bit more solid came forward.
Well, something a bit more solid has just come forward.
Our buddy Taylor Wimberly of AndroidAndMe was chatting with Robert Green of Battery Powered Games, who was reporting the same Nexus One multitouch sketchiness we’d heard of previously – but Robert had proof.
Robert threw together a simple multi-touch application called Multitouch Visible Test. As the name implies, it makes your multitouch input visible by drawing large circles beneath your fingers wherever the phone thinks they are. It’s all pure sensor data right from the phone; there’s not any data processing going on here, so there’s not a whole lot of room for software bugs on Robert’s end.
As you can see in the video below, the Motorola Droid seems to handle all of the default multitouch gestures with ease. The Nexus One, however, flounders; while it handles slow pinch-and-zoom motions just fine, it goes all kinds of crazy once your fingers get too close together. The output data gets flipped, reporting your fingers as being in the polar opposite locations of where they actually are.
It’s somewhat understandable how this bug slipped through the cracks: for standard pinch-and-zoom behaviors, things would seem to behave correctly enough that the difference may not be noticeable. It’s a different story with games, however; imagine having to control two things on the screen at one time, and having said things mysteriously rocket off in the wrong direction because your fingers got too close together. Suck.
It’s not a bug that’s likely to come up on a daily basis, but its not exactly trivial – and either way, a bug is a bug. If you have a drink tonight, cheers to the idea that this might be fixable with a software update.
Have you ever noticed any multi-touch oddities on the Nexus One (or any other Android handset)? Let us know in the comments.