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Google axed Android multitouch at Apple's request?

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It seems there's a reason that T-Mobile's new G1 touch-screen smartphone doesn't have a multitouch display: Google doesn't want to upset Apple.

Google - maker of the Android operating system used by the G1 - is cozily in bed with the Cupertino Fruit Company in a number of areas, from iPhone and iPod mapping capabilities to Safari search to the new geotagging Places feature in Apple's iPhoto '09.

It's a partnership that Google apparently wants to keep healthy and happy, according to a report from VentureBeat.

An unnamed source told that venture-capital news service that Apple asked Google to not implement multitouch capability in Android and that Google acquiesced.

What's more, the same source told VentureBeat that the Android team was "relieved that Google didn’t go against Apple’s wishes," fearing the same assault that Apple appears to be preparing to mount against Palm due to that company's multitouch Pre smartphone.

Its main weapon in that assault? The fearsome Patent #7,479,949, which covers many of the touch-screen technologies used in the iPhone and which Apple's acting CEO, Tim Cook, brandished less than subtly during the company's recent financials-phone-fest with analysts and reporters.

While video evidence exists that the T-Mobile G1's hardware is multitouch-capable, the version now on the market does not include this capability.

While Google is playing along with Apple today, it remains to be seen how long Mountain View will be able to resist implementing multitouch in Android. If Google is successful in Androidifying significant chunks of the smartphone universe, it will face increasing pressure to allow Android-based phones to become multitouch-capable.

Maybe Google is cooperating with Apple until the iPhone maker releases another groundbreaking feature that'll set the iPhone apart from its competitors - at which point multitouch will become standard equipment.

Or maybe Google is merely waiting to see what happens if - when? - Apple and Palm lock horns over the Pre's multitouch capabilities.

For now, however, it appears that Mountain View is taking its marching orders from Cupertino. ®

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