Google Nexus One Software Updated to Offer 'Pinch-to-Zoom' Multi-Touch Capabilities

Google yesterday announced that it had begun to deliver over-the-air software updates to users of its Android-based Nexus One smartphone, offering a number of enhancements. Most notably, the update enables pinch-to-zoom multi-touch functionality in several core applications.

Pinch-to-zoom functionality: devices will now include a new pinch-to-zoom mechanism in the phone's Browser, Gallery and Maps applications

Google's Android operating system previously did not support pinch-to-zoom in the U.S., with sources indicating that it had agreed not to include the functionality at the request of Apple. The functionality has, however, been available in European versions of Android smartphones. As the relationship between the Apple and Google, has soured amidst increasingly direct competition, speculation of course centers around the possibility that Google now considers full multi-touch capabilities to be fair game in the U.S.

For its part, Google offered a weak explanation to ReadWriteWeb, claiming that until this point, the hardware was not sufficient to deliver adequate pinch-to-zoom capabilities in Android.

Looking around the mobile industry, from Apple to Palm to HTC and Motorola - it's clear that pinch-to-zoom technology has become a standard and popular way for users to interact with their mobile phones. 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 touchscreens 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.

Engadget has posted a video of the Nexus One's pinch-to-zoom functionality in action.