Touchscreen interfaces - hype?

25 Sep 2008 - 3:50pm
5 years ago
21 replies
1130 reads
netwiz
2010

In another thread, Seth B said

>Physically, I find the iPhone lacking because of the lack of a
>keyboard. I find using a touchscreen for typing lacking.

Personal view - touchscreen devices are currently on the hype bit of
the Gartner curve, and as people realise that even though the devices
themselves might be very good but don't do all they expect, there will
be less emphasis on them.

The iPod Touch and the iPhone are cool and sexy, but are rubbish if
you want to play the next track when the player is in your pocket.
Devices that have tactile controls have advantages which seem to be
lost in the reviews of the next new bright shiny thing.

I think at present that some people will buy the devices on the basis
of the hype, and then find that they don't entirely fulfill the
promise. If you're not blind, and if you don't want to operate the
device in your pocket, or in the dark without disturbing your partner
in bed at night, then touchscreen might be great for you.

I see companies producing touchscreen devices apparently on the basis
of following Apple. This might make short-term commercial sense, but I
wonder if it's entirely based on user needs.

I've worked on touch screen check-in kiosks and in-flight
entertainment, so I'm not against it per se. But I wish some of those
new touch screen mp3 players had a few more tactile control
counterparts.

I'd very much welcome other views.

(Note: I thought I posted a message like this earlier, but it appears
to have disappeared).

* Nick Gassman - Usability and Standards Manager - http://ba.com *

Comments

25 Sep 2008 - 4:12pm
djetsa
2008

On the other hand, devices like BlackBerry offer a really worst
alternative. The trackball to navigate links and specially the QWERTY
keyboard on a 5 columns of buttons/keys cellphone are so hard to use
that using an onscreen keyboard turns to be a very good experience :)
Add to that the fact that those are really small keys.

I'm curious to see how G1 will behave.

Ricardo

On Sep 25, 2008, at 4:50 PM, Nick Gassman wrote:

> In another thread, Seth B said
>
>> Physically, I find the iPhone lacking because of the lack of a
>> keyboard. I find using a touchscreen for typing lacking.
>
> Personal view - touchscreen devices are currently on the hype bit of
> the Gartner curve, and as people realise that even though the devices
> themselves might be very good but don't do all they expect, there will
> be less emphasis on them.
>
> The iPod Touch and the iPhone are cool and sexy, but are rubbish if
> you want to play the next track when the player is in your pocket.
> Devices that have tactile controls have advantages which seem to be
> lost in the reviews of the next new bright shiny thing.
>
> I think at present that some people will buy the devices on the basis
> of the hype, and then find that they don't entirely fulfill the
> promise. If you're not blind, and if you don't want to operate the
> device in your pocket, or in the dark without disturbing your partner
> in bed at night, then touchscreen might be great for you.
>
> I see companies producing touchscreen devices apparently on the basis
> of following Apple. This might make short-term commercial sense, but I
> wonder if it's entirely based on user needs.
>
> I've worked on touch screen check-in kiosks and in-flight
> entertainment, so I'm not against it per se. But I wish some of those
> new touch screen mp3 players had a few more tactile control
> counterparts.
>
> I'd very much welcome other views.
>
> (Note: I thought I posted a message like this earlier, but it appears
> to have disappeared).
>
>
> * Nick Gassman - Usability and Standards Manager - http://ba.com *
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
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25 Sep 2008 - 4:11pm
Kontra
2007

> The iPod Touch and the iPhone are cool and sexy, but are rubbish if
> you want to play the next track when the player is in your pocket.

Which is why the Apple headsets have Send/End, Volume, Prev/Next
functionality built-in.

--
Kontra
http://counternotions.com

26 Sep 2008 - 11:07am
Drausio R. Haddad
2008

I dont agree. Devices like the blackberry with the trackball to navigate and keyboard are much more eficient and smooth in usability than touchscreen devices keyboard. The Iphone is a great innovation in terms of tactile interface, but its keyboard lacks big time usability... even if you get used to it, you will find the blackberry keyboard much more speed and precise in terms of use.

Drausio

--
Drausio R. Haddad
Product Design Manager / Head of Europe
Sanef Group
Paris - France

--

Envoyé le : Jeudi, 25 Septembre 2008, 23h12mn 10s
Objet : Re: [IxDA Discuss] Touchscreen interfaces - hype?

On the other hand, devices like BlackBerry offer a really worst
alternative. The trackball to navigate links and specially the QWERTY
keyboard on a 5 columns of buttons/keys cellphone are so hard to use
that using an onscreen keyboard turns to be a very good experience :)
Add to that the fact that those are really small keys.

I'm curious to see how G1 will behave.

Ricardo

26 Sep 2008 - 4:04pm
Viktor Reiter
2008

-------------------------------------------------------------------
The iPod Touch and the iPhone are cool and sexy, but are rubbish if
you want to play the next track when the player is in your pocket.
Devices that have tactile controls have advantages which seem to be
lost in the reviews of the next new bright shiny thing.
--------------------------------------------------------------------

Often devices have a key lock activated, so you can't use it, too. I
can use my iPod touch in my pocket.
It works but a haptic feedback is better, of course.

--------------------------------------------------------------------
%u2026or in the dark without disturbing your partner in bed at
night%u2026
--------------------------------------------------------------------

This is a bad example because nearly every device makes light and can
disturb your partner at night.

Of course, there's a big hype on the iPhone and touchscreens but
they have one big advantage: you save space for the keyboard, you can
change the complete interface for each app and provide the necessary
keys and buttons only.
You can save weight and due to no keyboard there are no mechanical
wear parts.

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26 Sep 2008 - 11:55pm
jack.smith
2008

I know the touch screen very much. for we are manufacturer of the
touch panel for the Iphone manufacturer. we focus on the 4-wire
resistive touch panel and SAW touch panel.
The touch panel we produce for the Iphone with the structure of
Film/Film/PMMA. it can be thinner than the Film/Glass.
anyone want to know more can contact me by the mail of jack at coenc.com
or MSN: coenc at hotmail.com

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27 Sep 2008 - 3:08am
netwiz
2010

On Fri, 26 Sep 2008 14:04:33, Viktor wrote:

>
>Often devices have a key lock activated, so you can't use it, too. I
>can use my iPod touch in my pocket.
>It works but a haptic feedback is better, of course.
>
Of course if the key are locked, you can use anything whether it's in
your pocket or not, but I don't think it's a factor in haptic v
touchscreen devices. You can tun the keylock off.

I'd be interested, do you actually control the iPod in your pocket?
What do you control? With my mp3 player I can pause, stop, start, turn
on/off, move to next or previous track, turn volume up or down, and
change eq without looking.
>
>
>--------------------------------------------------------------------
> %u2026or in the dark without disturbing your partner in bed at
>night%u2026
>--------------------------------------------------------------------
>
>This is a bad example because nearly every device makes light and can
>disturb your partner at night.
>
It's not a bad example. The point is that because I don't have to look
at the device I can control it under the bedcovers so the light isn't
visible.
>
>
>Of course, there's a big hype on the iPhone and touchscreens but
>they have one big advantage: you save space for the keyboard, you can
>change the complete interface for each app and provide the necessary
>keys and buttons only.
>You can save weight and due to no keyboard there are no mechanical
>wear parts.

I agree that there are advantages to touchscreens, but the lack of a
keyboard on my mp3 player really isn't an issue, and it's quite a few
years old now, and the mechanical parts are still going strong.

* Nick Gassman - Usability and Standards Manager - http://ba.com *

27 Sep 2008 - 12:50pm
Krystal Higgins
2008

There are haptic touchscreens in development, such as the Samsung
Anycall. I agree it's nice to have some haptic components to an
interface, but touchscreens allow for so much more adaptability than
having to use a pre-defined set of buttons on a keyboard as a crutch.

I would love a touchscreen to be created with areas that could raise
on electrical impulse, so that buttons on the current interface would
have a tactile quality, and change positions as the interface changes
(but whoa, probably a lot of learning there ;)). Maybe one is
already in development?

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27 Sep 2008 - 10:55am
rseiji
2008

Touchscreen lack of buttons has been discussed for years (Palms?) and the
iPhone just brought a more precise touch detection.
Try to find if it´'s bettern than BlackBerry's keyboard is an issue much
more regarding user needs than usability.

Some people has difficult to understand how to relate a set of 20 buttons to
one small screen. Access an icon in the bottom of a grid menu, demands the
user to press 5 keys. With touchscreen is just one tap in the icon. Does
this compensates the lack of haptic from the screen?

Cheers,
--
R. Seiji Sato
Interface Designer
http://www.rseiji.com
+55 11 8297-2930
São Paulo, Brasil

28 Sep 2008 - 11:49am
Alexander Baxevanis
2007

On Thu, Sep 25, 2008 at 9:50 PM, Nick Gassman <nick at netwiz.demon.co.uk> wrote:
> The iPod Touch and the iPhone are cool and sexy, but are rubbish if
> you want to play the next track when the player is in your pocket.
> Devices that have tactile controls have advantages which seem to be
> lost in the reviews of the next new bright shiny thing.

Actually, I don't think it's lost in reviews - I'm sure I've read at
least a hundred reviews complaining about the lack of tactile feeback
;-)

I don't listen to music a lot so I can't judge how much of an issue
this is. If I was curious I'd just go and ask a sample of music-loving
iPhone owners in order to get a real picture.

But in the end, I think you're missing a part of the picture if you
concentrate at such a narrow task. When Apple chose a touchscreen,
they enabled a whole new set of applications that wouldn't be possible
with your typical joystick + menu paradigm.

Example: A couple of days ago I discovered an iPhone app called
PanoLab that lets me drag a photo on top of another and stitch them
all in a panorama like this:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/futureshape/2894991106/

Try doing this on a non-touchscreen phone - I can't think of a good
way to design something like that.

Every technology has got its pros and cons - the question is how to
balance them. And in this case, whether Apple did their balancing
right.

Cheers,

Alexander Baxevanis
User Experience Consultant
Webcredible

28 Sep 2008 - 12:20pm
Dave Malouf
2005

correct me if I'm wrong. I've noticed that most of the criticism of
iPhone/iTouch are by people who don't own one. Nothing wrong with
not owning one, but to me haptics is like sugar. Unless you finish
the can of cola you really don't know if a pepsi is better than a
coke. (Pepsi wins its taste tests b/c it is sweeter and people have a
positive reaction viscerally to the sweetness, but by the time they
get to the end of a can/bottle that feeling isn't the same which is
why Coke wins in total sales.)

Alex is right. There is a lot to balance here and it is hard to break
apart the intricacies.
1) primary controls like answering the phone, volume, and even skip
song have physical controls either on the device, or in the
headphones, so this is really a non-issue. (BTW, when the iTouch
first came out it didn't have volume controls on the device (or
headphones) and this was a major complaint of mine ... Gen 2 of
iTouch put them on the device.

2) haptics. The kind of haptics that are available right now for
touch are a bit well "sweet" (in the bad way). It feels neat, but
its actual usefulness is way down. I have been experimenting with
competitors and internal Moto products since the LG Prada came out
and the ROKR from Moto. Moto has the far better technology, but both
even at their best is well not all that functionally or even
viscerally useful tot he total experience.

3) Hard keys vs. soft. This is a personal choice I think to some
degree and depends largely on use patterns, but I do have to agree
with one strong point that someone said. On a device of this size, we
know we are limited by the number of keys. This means that in many
primary usage scenarios some keys on a hard keyboard will never be
brought forward. colon and slash for instance are always hidden. Or
the "@" key. In a virtual keyboard the board is much easier to
rearrange.

4) The pocket scenarios: Per point 1, I think most pocket scenarios
are covered.

5) No keyboard is ONLY about its physicality. how it is supported (or
not) by the software will ultimately make the biggest difference in
the success.

6) screen real estate. If I don't need it why is it there. A SIP
keyboard (virtual slide-in) definitely allows for more space. Once
more It is a lot more functional than a true slider b/c sliders tend
to break compared to fully whole body embedded.

-- dave

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28 Sep 2008 - 1:28pm
jet
2008

Ricardo Seiji wrote:
> Some people has difficult to understand how to relate a set of 20 buttons to
> one small screen. Access an icon in the bottom of a grid menu, demands the
> user to press 5 keys. With touchscreen is just one tap in the icon. Does
> this compensates the lack of haptic from the screen?

"one tap of the icon" assuming you have a steady hand and good eyes.
Try using it on the bus with one hand on a strap and a bag hanging off
the other elbow...

I think a lot of the touch screen hyperbole is, well, hyperbole. I'm not
sure I understand the all-or-nothing obsession when it comes to
touchscreens.

For example, there's the XV6800 which has a touch screen and a small
number of "phone buttons", nav buttons, select, and a couple of soft
keys. I can use it one-handed quite easily using the nav/select buttons
or if I'm in a position to use it two-handed, I can use the touch-screen
or use the flip-out keyboard.

I've borrowed iPhones and the inability to use the majority of the
functions one-handed is a real deal-breaker. (Yes, I know, you
(collective) can use your iPhone perfectly well with one hand, but like
all the iPhone users I see on campus, you *choose* to use it two-handed.
:-) We just got a free iTouch with a laptop purchase, I'm going to try
and borrow it to see how I like it compared to my 5G iPod.

--
jet / KG6ZVQ
http://www.flatline.net
pgp: 0xD0D8C2E8 AC9B 0A23 C61A 1B4A 27C5 F799 A681 3C11 D0D8 C2E8

28 Sep 2008 - 11:53pm
rseiji
2008

> I would love a touchscreen to be created with areas that could raise
> on electrical impulse, so that buttons on the current interface would
> have a tactile quality, and change positions as the interface changes
> (but whoa, probably a lot of learning there ;)). Maybe one is
> already in development?
>

There's haptikos ;)
http://www.engadget.com/2007/11/06/nokia-shows-off-haptikos-tactile-touch-screen-technology/

--
R. Seiji Sato
Interface Designer
http://www.rseiji.com
+55 11 8297-2930
São Paulo, Brasil

26 Sep 2008 - 10:15pm
Kontra
2007

> trackball to navigate and keyboard are much more eficient and smooth in
> usability than touchscreen devices keyboard.

Where do you get these definitive "facts"?

> its keyboard lacks big time usability... even if you get used to it,

Interesting.

blackberry keyboard much more speed and precise in terms of use.

How do you define "much more"?

--
Kontra
http://counternotions.com

29 Sep 2008 - 10:50am
Dan Saffer
2003

Before you toss out the baby with the bathwater, recall Bill Buxton's
maxim: When it comes to technology, everything is best for something
and worse for something else.

Touchscreens (and other gestural interfaces) are great for:

- more natural interactions
- having less cumbersome or visible hardware
- more flexibility on the fly (no hard buttons to hinder changing the
entire interface)
- more nuance w/r/t the human body
- more fun

Gestural interfaces aren't so great for:

- heavy data input
- situations requiring haptic feedback
- those with motor skills impairment
- certain contexts of use

If we consider the iPhone with this lens, well, we can all acknowledge
it isn't the greatest for heavy data input like composing emails or
heavy texting. Nor does it provide haptic feedback. If you compose a
lot of mail or text heavily, then, yes, the iPhone may not be for you.
However, its natural interactions and its ability to change its entire
form from an iPod to a phone to a gaming console to web browser on the
fly is a pretty major bonus and one that Blackberry is unlikely to be
able to replicate, as a large percentage of their device is taken up
with a hard keyboard.

Dan

Dan Saffer
Principal, Kicker Studio
http://www.kickerstudio.com
http://www.designinggesturalinterfaces.com

29 Sep 2008 - 12:23pm
netwiz
2010

dave at ixda.org wrote:
> correct me if I'm wrong. I've noticed that most of the criticism of
> iPhone/iTouch are by people who don't own one.

Dave, hands up from me that I asked the question, and I don't own one. But it was a question. I'm interested to know if anyone who has purchased a touchscreen device then finds that they can't do the things they want. I quite agree that whether it works for you will depend, and it could work the other way round.

Thanks for your comments, useful.

Nick

29 Sep 2008 - 1:23pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I moved from both a BB (work) and Treo (personal) and have never spent
a minute regretting my iPhone. I know I sound all fanboy-ish about it
(I don't own or work on a Mac, btw), but the total experience no one
piece, but the total experience (so you can't decouple the screen and
digitizer from the software under it, or the services around it) has
been an unbeatable combination thus far.

I write tons of emails and messages on my iphone (multi-paragraphs
composed) and it is not ideal, but I get to do other things on it
that make that negative tolerable.

But I have to say that composing on my treo or BB weren't all that
much better. They had OTHER issues AND! they didn't have anything to
make up for it (except my BB which had 3G, and it was tetherable so I
didn't even have to use it that much anyway.)

- dave

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29 Sep 2008 - 4:05pm
Anonymous

Hey guys, just forwarding this tremendous response that Dave Malouf sent me.
Enjoy.

On Mon, Sep 29, 2008 at 3:52 PM, David Malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:

> Hi Brett,
>
> It is purely a personal device for me. Thought I could see using it for
> business based on my old experiences with BB at my previous job, but since I
> haven't tried the ActiveSync/Exchange stuff I can't really speak to the
> experience. I hope others can.
>
> It is a total integrated mobile PC for me. But the thing that puts it over
> the top for me is that it is my iPod AND my phone. I've been wanting this
> for years as I hate carrying 2 devices. It is really the best iPod I have
> ever owned. I'm completely invested in iTunes as I've bought maybe 30-50 CDs
> and some 50 individual songs from iTunes and well that means iPods are for
> me for a long time. I know this isn't an issue for everyone.
>
> The camera is a big thing for me. Can it be better. HELL YEAH! Flash
> please!!!! And where the heck is the video? And what about zooming, please?
> But the 2mb camera is perfect. if the images were much better qual they'd be
> harder to mail around (unless there was a way in the camera to scale
> formatting to purpose .... hmmm? an interesting app for the dev store
> maybe?).
>
> Touching vs. typing/clicking, wheeling, etc. It is just easier. Yes, some
> things are hard to do blind, but seriously, How much do I really do blind
> anyway. I text while I drive w/ my iPhone, BTW.
>
> 1-handed - I struggle a little bit here, but I struggled also on my BB and
> Treo. I'm a small guy w/ stubby thumbs. I'll struggle anywhere.
>
> Ok, for business. With ActiveSync and the ability to build Enterprise apps
> there isn't much that we shouldn't be able to do on the enterprise. HSBC is
> replacing its BB's with it for example after a large vetting period.
>
> I want ...
> more speed (I'm still on EDGE)
> cut & paste
> believe it or not I think there is a lot of room for improvement in GMaps
> Better Gmail integration (specifically I want my gmail reply-to history to
> come up when I'm filling out addresses. This is an expectation thing b/c I
> rely on it so heavily in Gmail and switching to another device and it not
> being there is frustrating; I have the same issue w/ GReader b/c it has its
> own, but not integrated across the services -- this is the web version.) I
> just generally think having a "reply-to" addressbook separate from my
> contacts would be good, too.
> GPS (full GPS; but the partial in the 3G would be nice too)
>
> There is more, but those are the biggies.
>
> I hope this helps ...
>
> Anyone else?
>
> -- dave
>
>
> On Mon, Sep 29, 2008 at 2:29 PM, Brett Lutchman <brettlutchman at gmail.com>wrote:
>
>> David I'm glad to hear about your experience,
>> I know your probably very busy right now as am I, but I just have a few
>> questions.
>> I'm a real BB/PC guy, tomorrow is the last day for my municipal area to
>> get in on the iPhone deal before it goes back up for a long time.
>> What is it about the iPhone that you really like?
>> What do you not like?
>> I know it is a device that is more consumer oriented then corporate, but
>> can it help business in any way?
>> Thanks.
>>
>

29 Sep 2008 - 3:02pm
Drausio R. Haddad
2008

Hey Dan, I totally agree with you :)

29 Sep 2008 - 3:00pm
Drausio R. Haddad
2008

Not at all.I love my iPhone but still prefer the keyboard of my bb.

On 29 sept. 08, at 19:23, nick at netwiz.demon.co.uk wrote:

dave at ixda.org wrote:
correct me if I'm wrong. I've noticed that most of the criticism of
iPhone/iTouch are by people who don't own one.

Dave, hands up from me that I asked the question, and I don't own one. But it was a question. I'm interested to know if anyone who has purchased a touchscreen device then finds that they can't do the things they want. I quite agree that whether it works for you will depend, and it could work the other way round.

Thanks for your comments, useful.

Nick

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29 Sep 2008 - 9:59pm
Kontra
2007

> Gestural interfaces aren't so great for:
> - heavy data input
>

While true for text entry for those accustomed to physical keyboards per se,
this may be a tad shortsighted in general.

Touchscreens (or any other design component, for that matter) don't live in
a vacuum. It's better to refer to touchscreen X on device Y. Not all
touchscreens are equal: those with low latency, better tactile feeling,
connected to more capable software, appropriately scaled to usage, etc are
better than those that are not.

Also data is not the same as text. There are lots of things that a touch
screen may facilitate that would require excessive, repetitive text entry.
For example, you can try to enter various IDs and passwords for
authentication on a physical keyboard or simply press a finger or draw a
gesture on a touchscreen. You can more directly see and manipulate large
datasets visually and drill down much more fluidly via touchscreen gestures
than text entry. You can better interact with visualizations, audio, photos,
videos, maps, etc via touchscreen than text entry.

Indeed, there may come all manner of location-specific or medical devices
yet unforseen but much more capable than we can imagine now that have the
added benefit of bypassing a lot of data input via text because they are
more connected and smarter about the environment they operate in. Just as
the best code is the one you don't have to write, it may be that the best
data input is the one that you didn't have to text in.

--
Kontra
http://counternotions.com

7 Oct 2008 - 7:09pm
james horgan
2008

I work primarily on designing applications for Microsoft Surface, and
I would say it's less hype and becoming more of a reality. Haptic
feedback, pressure sensitivity; and accuracy are all becoming
realities for touchscreen technology so its becoming much more a
practical part of a persons life.
I would say touchscreen in its current state is aimed at a different
type of interaction than a typical computer interface, e.g. typing.
I'd also say touchscreen has been around for at least 2 decades and
is becoming more of a pervasive reality than the clunky ATM
touchscreens of yesteryear!
It's still early days of course, but it's less about the hype and
more about designing innovative useful applications that maximize
touch tech potential.
thanks
james

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