Google Backs Off Multi-Touch to Please Apple, Report Claims

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Did Apple ask Google not to put multi-touch capabilities on the Android-based G1? Rumor has it that Apple may have approached Google while the company was developing the G1 with HTC, and asked the search giant not to put gesture capabilities like pinching on the device. The news comes from an anonymous "Android insider" who spoke with Venture Beat.

If Apple did ask Google to back off then it would confirm what we've been hearing from Apple lately. Namely, Apple is vigorously protecting the technology behind the iPhone. It would also explain why Google elected not to use multi-touch on a platform that can clearly support it (see the YouTube video included in this post).

Last month, Apple made headlines when it was awarded a patent for its touch technology on the iPhone. That raised questions about just how far the patent went, and what it meant for the future of touch screen devices. Around the same time, Apple's acting CEO Tim Cook threw down the gauntlet over multi-touch, saying the company was ready to go to court against any multi-touch imitators.

After Cook's challenge, many wondered whether Apple and Palm would end up in a pitched battle over Palm's upcoming Pre device. The Pre uses gesturing similar to the iPhone, but Palm says it is ready to defend the Pre in court. A litigation war is not guaranteed, but it seems likely, as Apple gets serious about protecting the iPhone from serious competition. Apple is also trying to trademark the term Multi-Touch, which could be another, albeit minor, stumbling block for corporate marketing teams.

Google may have rolled over for the G1, but what about the next round of Android devices expected to hit the market this year? Eventually, consumer demand for gesture capabilities on touch screen devices will be too high to ignore. The question then becomes, will Google retain its friendly relations with Apple or will the two companies end up duking it out in market, or worse, in court?

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