The HTC Magic wont ‘do’ multitouch for legal reasons, but Android developers are trying not to let that stop them from making a usable device. Circular Zoom is the Android answer to the iPhone’s pinch-zoom gesture – arguably one of the most intuitive user interfaces around.
We are all excited about the HTC Magic coming out in April, but the lack of multitouch on Android phones is still a bit of a pain. Take zooming – on the iPhone you just pinch your fingers together to zoom in and reverse the gesture to zoom out – simple, elegant and sadly patented. The current Android zoom buttons are a whole other kettle of fiddly fish, by comparison.
Circular Zoom is one way forward. Users double-tap the screen to pop up a translucent dial widget with a nice big green thumb ‘button’. Just rotate the dial via the button – clockwise zooms ion, anticlockwise zooms out. Simple. If anything, it’s simpler than pinch-zooming – you can do this gesture one-handed, after all.
Although the circular zoom has only been spotted on the HTC Magic so far, this is one area where the Open Source nature of Android may come into its own and make porting the feature to other Android handsets a relatively simple prospect. We hope.