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Hacker brings multitouch to Google's Nexus One

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A celebrated Android hacker has released software that greatly enhances Google's Nexus One smartphone, endowing it for the first time with the same coveted multitouch features that grace Apple's iPhone.

Operating under the moniker Cyanogen, the hacker released the updates on Wednesday. The hack came as Google formally made the Nexus One operating system, Android version 2.1, open source, paving the way for much more advanced modifications of the phone.

Introduced and trademarked by Apple, multitouch gives users the ability to use two or more fingers directly on a device screen to enlarge images and carry out similar actions. While it's been on the iPhone since day one, certain aspects of the technology were noticeably absent from official releases of Android devices. Google axed the feature at the request of Apple, an unnamed person has told Venture Beat.

The advent of multitouch on the Nexus One comes three weeks after Cyanogen brought SSH, USB support and other advanced features to the smartphone. The mods are meant to be flashed on top of the Nexus One's existing firmware, making it "very much low-level Linux kernel hacking as opposed to a full on ROM," said Chris Paget, chief hacker for reverse engineering firm H4RDW4RE.

But when Cyanogen released those earlier mods, he promised to release a full custom ROM as soon as Google dropped version 2.1 into the Android Open Source Project. With that out of the way, the real Nexus One hacking can begin. ®

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