Droid does multitouch, Milestone does it better

The Droid does support pinch and zoom multitouch, but it's not a feature that users can access.

Scott Webster
Scott Webster has spent the better part of his adult life playing with cell phones and gadgets. When not looking for the latest Android news and rumors, he relaxes with his wife and son. Scott also is the senior editor for AndroidGuys. E-mail Scott.
Scott Webster
2 min read
The Droid doesn't do everything. Josh Miller/CNET

One of the latest misconception to make its way around the blogspehere was that the Motorola Milestone features multitouch functionality whereas its Droid counterpart does not. As it turns out, Verizon's first Google Android smartphone does offer multitouch, just not in the same capacity. What's the difference and, more importantly, who made the decision to water down this feature for the Droid?

Made popular by the iPhone, pinching and pulling has become the preferred method for zooming in on a smart phone. While Verizon's Droid handset is built using the same Android 2.0 OS as the Milestone, users are left using a less-accurate double-tap.

The Milestone has multitouch built directly into the Android framework while the Droid relies on APIs that come with the 2.0 SDK. That means that it's up to app developers to implement the features.

For reasons unknown, however, Google hasn't integrated the capability into apps such as Google Maps. Though it could be added into future updates of select titles, the question remains: Who decided to leave basic multitouch off of Droid?

We came across a Google statement that seemingly deflects responsibility. "The Android 2.0 framework includes support for multitouch. As with other platform technologies, such as the text-to-speech engine, carriers and OEMs can choose to implement it." In other words, "Don't blame us...we just make it possible."

Motorola's approach was similar in that the company also points the finger elsewhere. We don't doubt for a moment that Moto is alluding to Verizon when it says, "We work very closely with our carriers and partners to deliver differentiated consumer experiences on our mobile devices. At times, similar devices come to market with different features, depending on the region, carrier preferences, and consumer needs."

Both companies appear to implicate Verizon in their respective statements, which comes as no surprise. Verizon has a deserved reputation for stripping functionality from its handsets and this appears to be no exception. While the Droid is a change for the better--Wi-Fi, for example, is onboard--the lack of real multitouch is disappointing.

Unfortunately, we're in the dark as to why Verizon made the decision. We've asked for comment, and if we get it we'll list it here. Given Verizon's "iDon't" ad campaign, you'd assume that Verizon would want to make its Droid as functional as possible. After all, Verizon's other Android phone, the HTC Droid Eris, does offer pinch and zoom in the Web browser.

Who is to blame? Unless someone steps up and takes full responsibility, we won't know.