Google had recently filed a patent for multitouch trackpad gestures, potentially bringing new functionality to Chrome OS and the company’s Android OS. However, another potential, rather than the merely using Android on a laptop or desktop system, would be the trackpad as an application for Google’s scalability feature that comes with the next-generation Android 5.0 Jelly Bean OS. Jelly Bean is rumored to come with a hardware Motorola Lapdock-like docking feature, which would essentially convert your smartphone into a light netbook.
The up-side of having a system like a Lapdock with Motorola’s Webtop OS is that for most wireless carriers, you’ll only need a basic smartphone data plan and won’t have to worry about tethering. The downside, however, is that Android apps merely scale up to fill the entire screen, so you’re still getting running the smartphone app on a larger screen without adding much value to the user experience. Additionally, as Android and the accompanying third-party apps are built on a touch platform, a simple operation on a capacitive touch-enabled tablet or smartphone would require lots of clicking and holding while dragging. Google’s application for trackpad operations could help simplify this and allow Android to be extensible, scalable, and more user friendly on a laptop form factor where the trackpad–and not a touchscreen–is a major input source.
According to the patent overview, as reported by Patently Apple, “According to Google, certain applications and operating systems, such as their own Android operating system, have been designed around a touchscreen user interface. However, it may be beneficial to allow such applications and operating systems to be implemented on more traditional devices, such as a desktop, netbook or laptop device that include physical keyboards and/or pointing devices, such as trackpad devices.”
Essentially, by using two fingers on the screen on a trackpad, Google can map this to replicate actions performed on a touchscreen. This, of course, will require a slight learning curve to get users acquainted with the gestures, but could make it more user-friendly in the end for Lapdock-like accessories under Jelly Bean in the end.
Android 5.0 is rumored to be announced in June 2012 at the Google I/O conference.