Multi-Touch Zoom Pinch is virally terrible. Fix it. Please.

May 4, 2011

Dear OEMs and software developers,

Please learn to write a proper multi-touch interface driver. Copy Apple. I don’t care. Apple got it 100% correct in every way. I don’t even own an Apple product. In fact, I discovered this in reverse. I got an Android phone (LG Ally), and found its multitouch gestures somewhat useful. I remembered seeing something like that on the iPhone. But the experience… is entirely different on Android. The pinch zoom is freaking terrible.

Just try to use Google Maps on a (Google) Android phone. Impossible. Pinch zoom to where you want, you pinch to where you want and let go… BLAM, the screen explodes to some totally ridiculous zoom level. OK. Pinch zoom back out, can’t even pinch to the level you were just at… let go… BLAM, you’re zoomed into a pebble in the road. I give up and start hitting the +/- zoom buttons to get back to reality. This behavior is all over Android, especially in photos.

Same with my “Elantech” touchpad. I have a pinch-zoom function that does the same exact thing, bouncy zoom. In Picasa (wait, is that another Google app? Yes it is!), I can pinch-zoom. But what’s it do? Release fingers, and BOUNCE. Snaps to some random-ass zoom level, usually orders of magnitude out of range. And it’s always zooming “in”, too… it never zooms “out”.

Then I used an iPhone 4 with Google Maps. WOW. Perfect. Everything zooms and pans directly and instantly, as if my fingers were manipulating the map itself. Web, everything pans and zooms beautifully. Apple did it right, they implemented proper input filtering to detect those out-of-range values and remove them. Why the hell hasn’t Google and friends done the same?



  1. Stop making Apple look good, dammit. I think multi-touch gestures are gimmicky anyway, so I don’t use them. Hell, I don’t even have a cell phone.

  2. The only other phone i’ve played with who got it right besides apple was Palm.. now HP on the palm pre, hell i prefer its multi touch more than my ipod touch 4th gens’. It’s good enough that apple almost sued them over the tech. Plus webOS is the best mobile OS out there. Check Out HP’s stuff they are releasing this summer. The HP Veer (released the 15th) and the Pre 3 and touchpad.. Sure it’s not popular as android or iOS but the best things always start out small and unknown 😀

  3. Ya, apple is where it is currently because they have a lot of little things like that right.
    They also have a lot of bigger things wrong, but the little things are what seem to attract people.
    As a computer tech, I can see how this makes sense.

  4. I have a droid 2 with 2.2 and I think the pinch zoom works great on maps webpages, documents, pics, etc. I have never had the problems you are mentioning. I have also used a couple HTC devices. Maybe it is a hardware problem, what device are you using?

    @Camo Yoshi multi-touch, voice control, etc. are gong to be the new standard interaction methods. They are already being call NUI’s (natural user interface). So like it or not they are here to stay and will only be getting better.

    • Just re-read the post. LG Ally, duh. Have you tried other devices?

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