Google and Verizon today quietly pushed an update to the Motorola Droid that brings multi-touch to the smartphone in limited form. The over-the-air 3.4 upgrade switches on pinch-to-zoom control in Google Maps. Unlike the Nexus One update, though, the change doesn’t extend to the web browser or photo gallery.
Droid owners can load the update through Android Market.
The update heralds a rapid leveling of the playing field for Android in the US. Previously, multi-touch had been conspicuously absent from American phones even when international models had the same support, such as the Droid’s worldwide counterpart, the Milestone. Rumors have circulated that Apple had Google pull support in the US out of a "gentleman’s agreement" to avoid patent disputes and ease competitive tensions between Android handsets and the iPhone. It’s not clear whether such an agreement is being dropped, if it existed, or if technical factors may have come into play.
Android 2.0 and 2.1 have a multi-touch framework built-in, but apps have to implement the technology themselves.