The abstract of the patent however implies something completely different, and much less defensible.
Touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics
A computer-implemented method for use in conjunction with a computing device with a touch screen display comprises: detecting one or more finger contacts with the touch screen display, applying one or more heuristics to the one or more finger contacts to determine a command for the device, and processing the command. The one or more heuristics comprise: a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a one-dimensional vertical screen scrolling command (scrolling), a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a two-dimensional screen translation command (panning), and a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a command to transition from displaying a respective item in a set of items to displaying a next item in the set of items (swiping).
Now it should be clear that, while many are calling this the multi-touch patent, what it actually covers is any simple gesture using even only one finger. Of course the patent does cover the so-called pinch gestures, but are much broader than what people appear to assume. It should also be pretty obvious most of these gestures are self-evident and already employed well before this 2006 patent was even filed.
So much for that then.
Read Apple’s patent here.