AfterThought: Of Touchscreens & Interfaces

22 Comments

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This is even more the case with onscreen keyboards. When we type, even on a full-sized keyboard, our finger is at any point poised to press any of several keys. It is only that difference between touching and pressing that allows us to make sure we are hitting the right key. The smaller the keys, the more this comes into play. We like that with physical buttons we can run our fingers over every button, knowing that none of them will do anything until we actually press it. The buttons on most devices are even made with this in mind. Most mobile devices have very stiff buttons with very little play, and a very clear physical feedback when you have activated it. You know exactly when it was you hit the key, and more importantly, you know when you haven’t hit it, but are just touching it.

This is why a great many people describe touchscreens as annoying, imprecise, or confusing. Because they take every touch as a press. You can’t rest your thumbs on a virtual screen keyboard, and then only press the keys you intend to use, because touching is pressing. You can’t press the “s” instead of the “d” just by rolling the edge of your thumb a little, because the touchscreen doesn’t know you didn’t mean to touch the “d” you finger, however, does. A touchscreen requires a precision and clarity of conscious thought that our forgiving buttons don’t. You have to chose which virtual button you want on the the screen, before you move your hand, and then touch it, instead of idly caressing the buttons until you feel the one that is right.

apple_iphone_inhand.jpgYou will notice that this principal even extends past the handheld to the desktop. The mechanism we use to point, and the mechanism we use to select are separate. The mouse will let you hover that pointer around the desktop all day long, with your finger resting on the button, waiting until you actually press it, instead of just touching it. Even digitizer tablets have pressure sensitivity, so that you can touch, but not press. We like to keep our options open until the last instant that we commit, and a touchscreen doesn’t allow that. It wants you to know what you are doing before you ever lay a finger on it. It doesn’t care if you meant to select that icon or not. It was the icon closest to your finger when it touched the screen, so it must have been what you intended to hit.

So what does this mean for the iPhone that started this whole conversation? Who knows? People have a funny way of letting Apple tell them that what they have done their entire life is wrong, and they need to adapt to fit the way Apple wants them to work, rather than Apple making a device that works the way people do. Maybe Apple will pull it off again, and people will get over their hatred of the touchscreen just to be rewarded with the newest piece of shiny Apple glitz. That said, Apple is definitely trying to drag people back to where this whole smartphone thing started, which is definitely not the direction they have chosen. I suspect that until someone starts implementing some of the recent technologies from companies like Immersion, that allow touchscreens to provide tactile feedback, and tell the difference between touch and press, any touchscreen device is going to have limited appeal, and a frustrated user base.

But then I’ve been wrong before, especially when it comes to what people will accept from Apple.

  • squished18

    Enjoyed your posting and find myself in agreement with the theory of indecision requiring tactile feedback. I wonder if it is possible to design a touchscreen that can differentiate between a hover and a click. My notebook touchpad seems to have difficulty telling the difference. Perhaps Apple is bringing some new technology to the table, but of course that is still vaporware.

    I don’t find myself totally in agreement with the Apple-bashing. I think one reason for the success of iPod was the click-wheel. It seems to me that the click-wheel was a small revolution in navigating a massive library of files on a portable device. Apple got that UI implementation bang-on.

    Perhaps the success of the click-wheel has blinded Apple to the weaknesses of the touchscreen concept.

  • squished18

    Enjoyed your posting and find myself in agreement with the theory of indecision requiring tactile feedback. I wonder if it is possible to design a touchscreen that can differentiate between a hover and a click. My notebook touchpad seems to have difficulty telling the difference. Perhaps Apple is bringing some new technology to the table, but of course that is still vaporware.

    I don’t find myself totally in agreement with the Apple-bashing. I think one reason for the success of iPod was the click-wheel. It seems to me that the click-wheel was a small revolution in navigating a massive library of files on a portable device. Apple got that UI implementation bang-on.

    Perhaps the success of the click-wheel has blinded Apple to the weaknesses of the touchscreen concept.

  • Verizon User

    You make an excellent point about the touch screen.

    Every smartphone is a compromise – there just isn’t enough physical room to put everything that you’d like in a form factor that’s usable. When you make an engineering compromise, you make assumptions about the use of the device. Apple seems to have assumed that the iPhone will be used mostly to receive, rather than send, information. Once you make that assumption, using an inferior keyboard in order to make more room for the information being received makes some sense.

    Being old enough to remember the launch of the original Mac, I see a lot of the same issues with the iPhone. The original Mac didn’t have enough storage, wasn’t fast enough, got too hot, etc. The iPhone doesn’t have enough battery, lacks third-party apps, no HSPDA, etc. I don’t want to own iPhone v 1.0, because there are too many compromises in its implementation. But I still think that, like the Mac, it’s a revolutionary product. Jobs and crew are excellent at moving the bar.

  • Verizon User

    You make an excellent point about the touch screen.

    Every smartphone is a compromise – there just isn’t enough physical room to put everything that you’d like in a form factor that’s usable. When you make an engineering compromise, you make assumptions about the use of the device. Apple seems to have assumed that the iPhone will be used mostly to receive, rather than send, information. Once you make that assumption, using an inferior keyboard in order to make more room for the information being received makes some sense.

    Being old enough to remember the launch of the original Mac, I see a lot of the same issues with the iPhone. The original Mac didn’t have enough storage, wasn’t fast enough, got too hot, etc. The iPhone doesn’t have enough battery, lacks third-party apps, no HSPDA, etc. I don’t want to own iPhone v 1.0, because there are too many compromises in its implementation. But I still think that, like the Mac, it’s a revolutionary product. Jobs and crew are excellent at moving the bar.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    squished18

    I’m not bashing Apple, I just have a difference of opinion with how Apple designs interfaces. I think that interfaces should be built around how people naturally work. Apple has a long history of deciding something is neat, and that everybody should change the way they work to take advantage of this neat thing.

    Many people respect that Apple “pushes the envelope.” I often find it an impediment to easily using their products, because it requires unnatural adjustment just for the sake of novelty.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    squished18

    I’m not bashing Apple, I just have a difference of opinion with how Apple designs interfaces. I think that interfaces should be built around how people naturally work. Apple has a long history of deciding something is neat, and that everybody should change the way they work to take advantage of this neat thing.

    Many people respect that Apple “pushes the envelope.” I often find it an impediment to easily using their products, because it requires unnatural adjustment just for the sake of novelty.

  • Thought

    Lloyd: congrats on the article…it’s a great read.

    I agree in that it seems the concept of the touch screen UI goes through cycles…it seems a neat idea, only to be eventually pushed to the background by the old fashioned keypad.

    Time will only tell if the touch screen is a great idea, just waiting for technology to catch up with it, or if it is simply an idea that doesn’t work so well.

    Certainly, if anyone can get it right, that would seem to be Apple.

    My only point of disagreement with you is…surprise..surprise…on your idea of Apple somehow fooling everyone and convincing them to love a UI that isn’t so great. I don’t believe Apple or any company can fool the mass consumer market to that degree, esp. over time. If Apple products are popular or known for their ease of use, it’s because that is the opinion of a great number of consumers. The consumers haven’t been somehow fooled by Apple or dragged into purchasing something they don’t like, they have been pleased by Apple.

    The iPod is of course the most famous example. iPod’s sell, not because people have been deceived, but because Apple got the UI right. I can’t tell you how many non-techie type of people I know are blown away by the ease of use when they get their first iPod.

    Your idea that interfaces should be built around how people actually work and use them is exactly the obsession that Apple has. I know of no company that goes to the extremes of trying to figure out how to improve usability as much as Apple.

  • Thought

    Lloyd: congrats on the article…it’s a great read.

    I agree in that it seems the concept of the touch screen UI goes through cycles…it seems a neat idea, only to be eventually pushed to the background by the old fashioned keypad.

    Time will only tell if the touch screen is a great idea, just waiting for technology to catch up with it, or if it is simply an idea that doesn’t work so well.

    Certainly, if anyone can get it right, that would seem to be Apple.

    My only point of disagreement with you is…surprise..surprise…on your idea of Apple somehow fooling everyone and convincing them to love a UI that isn’t so great. I don’t believe Apple or any company can fool the mass consumer market to that degree, esp. over time. If Apple products are popular or known for their ease of use, it’s because that is the opinion of a great number of consumers. The consumers haven’t been somehow fooled by Apple or dragged into purchasing something they don’t like, they have been pleased by Apple.

    The iPod is of course the most famous example. iPod’s sell, not because people have been deceived, but because Apple got the UI right. I can’t tell you how many non-techie type of people I know are blown away by the ease of use when they get their first iPod.

    Your idea that interfaces should be built around how people actually work and use them is exactly the obsession that Apple has. I know of no company that goes to the extremes of trying to figure out how to improve usability as much as Apple.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Thanks Thought.

    I do have to say though, that you fall into a trap many Apple fan commonly do. You say that you don’t think that any company can fool the mass consumer market to that degree, esp. over time. Yet, if I were to point out that Microsoft clearly makes the best computer UI, based on how popular it is, you would turn around and undoubtedly go on about how Microsoft has fooled people all these years into using their OS.

    Here is my thing with a lot of interfaces, the iPod included, but certainly not limited to the iPod. Apple tends to be fond of interfaces that are very easy to understand, once they are explained to you, but not immediately clear without prior knowledge. The iPod is a perfect example. I have an Apple store quite near to my house, and for various reasons I am in there quite often. Every time I go in, I see the same scenario play out time and time again. Someone A new customer walks up to an iPod, starts trying to navigate by using the wheel as a D-Pad. You know, press the top to go up, bottom to go down, left and right same thing. They have an initial annoyance while it doesn’t do what they expected, and then either another customer, or an employee runs their finger around the wheel, they have a momentary sheepish look on their face of embarrassment, and then they understand it perfectly.

    This is the same problem the mouse has. If you take a bunch of young children (and this study has been done multiple times by different universities) who have never used a computer, and put them in a room with computers using mice, trackballs, and digitizer tablets, and offer them no instruction, a funny thing happens. The children, left on their own figure out how to use the digitizer tablet 80% faster than the mouse, and given the choice will almost always pick the computer with the tablet. Even the trackball does better than the mouse for children who have had no instruction.

    So, why is it that adults all use mice, and most practically have anxiety attacks if you replace their mouse with a trackball or tablet? Simple, because once you have had it explained to you, a mouse is easy to use, but it is not intuitive. Adults have invested the time in learning mousing skills because it is the cheapest pointing device available, and as such is shipped with every system. At this point, any interface other than the mouse feels ‘wrong’ to them, because they have trained themselves to relate to the computer through the mouse, even though it is not the most natural or intuitive interface.

    I think this is also the case with a great deal of Apple’s interface technology. Apple, for better or worse, has a very strong idea of how an interface should work, and as such, sticks to those design principals. Even if something has problems in usability testing, it will still be brought to market, because someone high up (often Steve Jobs) thinks it is the ‘right way to do it.’

    Mind you, I’m not saying this is ‘fooling’ people. Just that most consumers wouldn’t put up with it from many companies. Palm, for example, was very committed to pen based computing, and really thought it was the ‘right way to do it,’ but eventually had to give into their customer’s desire for physical keyboards, because the lack of them was hurting sales. I could name a million example where Microsoft has been forced to change things because customers demanded it, and they wanted their system to work the way they expected.

    When it really comes down to it, Apple’s school of design can be seen as admirable from one angle, but just as easily seen as dictatorial and pig-headed from another. Sometimes it works for them, and other times it doesn’t. I don’t know which the iPhone is going to be.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Thanks Thought.

    I do have to say though, that you fall into a trap many Apple fan commonly do. You say that you don’t think that any company can fool the mass consumer market to that degree, esp. over time. Yet, if I were to point out that Microsoft clearly makes the best computer UI, based on how popular it is, you would turn around and undoubtedly go on about how Microsoft has fooled people all these years into using their OS.

    Here is my thing with a lot of interfaces, the iPod included, but certainly not limited to the iPod. Apple tends to be fond of interfaces that are very easy to understand, once they are explained to you, but not immediately clear without prior knowledge. The iPod is a perfect example. I have an Apple store quite near to my house, and for various reasons I am in there quite often. Every time I go in, I see the same scenario play out time and time again. Someone A new customer walks up to an iPod, starts trying to navigate by using the wheel as a D-Pad. You know, press the top to go up, bottom to go down, left and right same thing. They have an initial annoyance while it doesn’t do what they expected, and then either another customer, or an employee runs their finger around the wheel, they have a momentary sheepish look on their face of embarrassment, and then they understand it perfectly.

    This is the same problem the mouse has. If you take a bunch of young children (and this study has been done multiple times by different universities) who have never used a computer, and put them in a room with computers using mice, trackballs, and digitizer tablets, and offer them no instruction, a funny thing happens. The children, left on their own figure out how to use the digitizer tablet 80% faster than the mouse, and given the choice will almost always pick the computer with the tablet. Even the trackball does better than the mouse for children who have had no instruction.

    So, why is it that adults all use mice, and most practically have anxiety attacks if you replace their mouse with a trackball or tablet? Simple, because once you have had it explained to you, a mouse is easy to use, but it is not intuitive. Adults have invested the time in learning mousing skills because it is the cheapest pointing device available, and as such is shipped with every system. At this point, any interface other than the mouse feels ‘wrong’ to them, because they have trained themselves to relate to the computer through the mouse, even though it is not the most natural or intuitive interface.

    I think this is also the case with a great deal of Apple’s interface technology. Apple, for better or worse, has a very strong idea of how an interface should work, and as such, sticks to those design principals. Even if something has problems in usability testing, it will still be brought to market, because someone high up (often Steve Jobs) thinks it is the ‘right way to do it.’

    Mind you, I’m not saying this is ‘fooling’ people. Just that most consumers wouldn’t put up with it from many companies. Palm, for example, was very committed to pen based computing, and really thought it was the ‘right way to do it,’ but eventually had to give into their customer’s desire for physical keyboards, because the lack of them was hurting sales. I could name a million example where Microsoft has been forced to change things because customers demanded it, and they wanted their system to work the way they expected.

    When it really comes down to it, Apple’s school of design can be seen as admirable from one angle, but just as easily seen as dictatorial and pig-headed from another. Sometimes it works for them, and other times it doesn’t. I don’t know which the iPhone is going to be.

  • Thought

    Lloyd: Good point about Microsoft, but my point is this: the market is basically rational; consumers make choices for a reason. Even with the dominance of Microsoft in the PC OS, there are good reasons to explain that, and they have nothing to do with consumers being fooled or tricked. They may have to do with issues like pricing, familiarity, etc..but there are good reasons. So I would never say that MS has fooled people into buying their product.

    Nice to know you frequent the Apple store :)

    Re your point about UI’s and people learning how to use them: you are correct in that with many such systems, the consumers may have to be trained. However, that doesn’t necessarily make an interface that requires a small amount of additional training less effective than another. For instance, you are correct: many consumers may not initially pick up on the use of the clickwheel. However, once learned, the clickwheel may indeed be the friendlier, more capable user interface. In fact, you mention how initially some people want to use it as a D-pad; who’s to say that the reason why isn’t that these people have been trained to use a D-pad? In other words, the D-pad may not be the most intuitive to pick up, just the one that many others have had exposure to and been trained in. However, it really doesn’t matter to me, as you will see below…

    Your point about the computer mouse is duly noted.

    However, either way, your thesis seems to be essentially that the best, most usable UI is the one requiring the least amount of initial consumer training. I would say that this thesis may not necessarily be true; that sometimes a small investment up front in training can yield greater benefits in usability down the road. And we are talking about a pretty small investment in additional training. It doesn’t take much to train a user on the iPod clickwheel system, even if they were expecting a D-pad or something else. It’s the same way with a mouse; a child may initially figure out the tablet moreso than the mouse, but that doesn’t make the tablet a more effective or usable UI than a mouse. It may or may not; but it is not the sole arbiter of usability. Plus, it’s pretty easy to train someone how to use a mouse; we aren’t talking rocket science or months of retraining.

    Consider typing itself; the QWERTY arrangement of a keyboard is not intuitive, esp to a child. Most people would probably start off with some sort of alphabetical arrangement of keys. Yet once mastered, the QWERTY layout is infinitely preferable to a more simplistic layout. So the QWERTY layout itself is not the easiest or most intuitive to pick up and master; however, once mastered, it is the most effective and efficient.

    In fact, I can argue that the appeal of the touchscreen is that it is, at first, the simplest, most intuitive to pick up and use. Those children in the computer mouse test would probably gravitate towards a touch screen moreso than a keyboard. In fact, ironically, in that test you mention, they in essence did gravitate to the closest UI to a touch screen that they had: a digitizer tablet.

    So by that standard Apple’s choice of a touch screen seems inspired.

    Your other thesis is that consumers “put up” with Apple kind of dictating or shaping their preferences. But again, I maintain that the market is mostly rational, and that Apple really doesn’t have such far-reaching power. In fact, if Apple does have greater trust and influence with consumers in these areas, it’s only because of the credibility that Apple has built up in the past by actually delivering pleasing UI’s.

    I really do believe that with UI’s, people know very quickly if something is easy to use or not. Apple cannot really change that; they can only put out products that really work.

    As for the iPhone, you are certainly correct: until people get their hands on this phone, we won’t know for sure how successful it will be.

    I should point out that my first impression is that the screen will be gorgeous, amazing for watching video, pictures, etc…but I still believe a keyboard will be the way to go for power email and texting. So I write this not entirely sold on the virtual keyboard aspect.

    Thanks again for a stimulating conversation…you are the man!

  • Thought

    Lloyd: Good point about Microsoft, but my point is this: the market is basically rational; consumers make choices for a reason. Even with the dominance of Microsoft in the PC OS, there are good reasons to explain that, and they have nothing to do with consumers being fooled or tricked. They may have to do with issues like pricing, familiarity, etc..but there are good reasons. So I would never say that MS has fooled people into buying their product.

    Nice to know you frequent the Apple store :)

    Re your point about UI’s and people learning how to use them: you are correct in that with many such systems, the consumers may have to be trained. However, that doesn’t necessarily make an interface that requires a small amount of additional training less effective than another. For instance, you are correct: many consumers may not initially pick up on the use of the clickwheel. However, once learned, the clickwheel may indeed be the friendlier, more capable user interface. In fact, you mention how initially some people want to use it as a D-pad; who’s to say that the reason why isn’t that these people have been trained to use a D-pad? In other words, the D-pad may not be the most intuitive to pick up, just the one that many others have had exposure to and been trained in. However, it really doesn’t matter to me, as you will see below…

    Your point about the computer mouse is duly noted.

    However, either way, your thesis seems to be essentially that the best, most usable UI is the one requiring the least amount of initial consumer training. I would say that this thesis may not necessarily be true; that sometimes a small investment up front in training can yield greater benefits in usability down the road. And we are talking about a pretty small investment in additional training. It doesn’t take much to train a user on the iPod clickwheel system, even if they were expecting a D-pad or something else. It’s the same way with a mouse; a child may initially figure out the tablet moreso than the mouse, but that doesn’t make the tablet a more effective or usable UI than a mouse. It may or may not; but it is not the sole arbiter of usability. Plus, it’s pretty easy to train someone how to use a mouse; we aren’t talking rocket science or months of retraining.

    Consider typing itself; the QWERTY arrangement of a keyboard is not intuitive, esp to a child. Most people would probably start off with some sort of alphabetical arrangement of keys. Yet once mastered, the QWERTY layout is infinitely preferable to a more simplistic layout. So the QWERTY layout itself is not the easiest or most intuitive to pick up and master; however, once mastered, it is the most effective and efficient.

    In fact, I can argue that the appeal of the touchscreen is that it is, at first, the simplest, most intuitive to pick up and use. Those children in the computer mouse test would probably gravitate towards a touch screen moreso than a keyboard. In fact, ironically, in that test you mention, they in essence did gravitate to the closest UI to a touch screen that they had: a digitizer tablet.

    So by that standard Apple’s choice of a touch screen seems inspired.

    Your other thesis is that consumers “put up” with Apple kind of dictating or shaping their preferences. But again, I maintain that the market is mostly rational, and that Apple really doesn’t have such far-reaching power. In fact, if Apple does have greater trust and influence with consumers in these areas, it’s only because of the credibility that Apple has built up in the past by actually delivering pleasing UI’s.

    I really do believe that with UI’s, people know very quickly if something is easy to use or not. Apple cannot really change that; they can only put out products that really work.

    As for the iPhone, you are certainly correct: until people get their hands on this phone, we won’t know for sure how successful it will be.

    I should point out that my first impression is that the screen will be gorgeous, amazing for watching video, pictures, etc…but I still believe a keyboard will be the way to go for power email and texting. So I write this not entirely sold on the virtual keyboard aspect.

    Thanks again for a stimulating conversation…you are the man!

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Thought

    It isn’t that I think the interface that requires the least training is the best exactly. That is close, but not quite what I’m saying. What I am saying is that the more natural an interface is, the less training is required to use it to its fullest. You are quite correct than in simple things like mice and MP3 players, that the training time is very minimal. However that could almost be used as an argument to say that UI design doesn’t even matter, because it is such a simple system, that any UI could be quickly learned.

    You are right, however, that the touchscreen SEEMS like it should be a very natural interface, but the tactile issues keep it from really BEING natural. As I said, the technology is out there to make screens more tactile, and I think they will really com into their own when that technology gets down to the price where it can be put in everyday devices. However, it isn’t here yet.

    We will see how it Apple does with this. Right now I still think they went for novelty and glitz over usability.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Thought

    It isn’t that I think the interface that requires the least training is the best exactly. That is close, but not quite what I’m saying. What I am saying is that the more natural an interface is, the less training is required to use it to its fullest. You are quite correct than in simple things like mice and MP3 players, that the training time is very minimal. However that could almost be used as an argument to say that UI design doesn’t even matter, because it is such a simple system, that any UI could be quickly learned.

    You are right, however, that the touchscreen SEEMS like it should be a very natural interface, but the tactile issues keep it from really BEING natural. As I said, the technology is out there to make screens more tactile, and I think they will really com into their own when that technology gets down to the price where it can be put in everyday devices. However, it isn’t here yet.

    We will see how it Apple does with this. Right now I still think they went for novelty and glitz over usability.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Oh, let me also say Thought, in the interest of full disclosure, that I have always thought the clickwheel was a dumb gimmick. I know I am in the minority here, but personally I would argue that the fact that Apple has abandon it on this new device is actually proof of what a gimmick it was. It was something to make the iPod stand out from the crowd, and for that it worked wonderfully, but I never thought it was the best UI decision. I have seen too many people at the gym having to stop what they are doing to futz with their iPods, because they either got too sweaty, and the clickwheel wouldn’t register their touch, or they needed to look at the screen to see what they were doing. I personally thought it was a poor substitute for some simple buttons.

    That doesn’t mean people didn’t genuinely think it was neat, but then people genuinely think the Danger Hiptop is neat too, and I could go on for hours about what a piece of garbage I think that is!

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Oh, let me also say Thought, in the interest of full disclosure, that I have always thought the clickwheel was a dumb gimmick. I know I am in the minority here, but personally I would argue that the fact that Apple has abandon it on this new device is actually proof of what a gimmick it was. It was something to make the iPod stand out from the crowd, and for that it worked wonderfully, but I never thought it was the best UI decision. I have seen too many people at the gym having to stop what they are doing to futz with their iPods, because they either got too sweaty, and the clickwheel wouldn’t register their touch, or they needed to look at the screen to see what they were doing. I personally thought it was a poor substitute for some simple buttons.

    That doesn’t mean people didn’t genuinely think it was neat, but then people genuinely think the Danger Hiptop is neat too, and I could go on for hours about what a piece of garbage I think that is!

  • Thought

    Lloyd: the fact that Apple has chosen something other than the clickwheel as their interface on the touchscreen iPhone in no way repudiates that UI for the iPod. It simply means that in this context, Apple decided on something different: a full touchscreen, with virtual controls. As to why no virtual clickwheel, again, in this context, something may work better, given screen size, technology, etc.
    But it’s not a difficult concept to imagine that one UI is better for one device, the other for another device.

    But the bottom line is this: with any consumer device, it’s often difficult to label something objectively better, because, ultimately, with consumers it is a subjective choice. It’s not like the business market, where businesses have to choose based on efficiency, security, etc. Consumers choose on a variety of factors, including simple emotional appeal.

    It’s kind of like with TV shows and movies; it’s all a matter of personal preference. All one can objectively speak of are the sales figures, and also the reaction of the audience and professional writers/critics (not that the opinion of the audience or critics is objective, but one can objectively note what the predominance of such opinions are).

    So with the iPod and the clickwheel, all one can really do is cite sales figures, and what people are writing and saying about it. In both cases, the reaction has been mostly positive.

  • Thought

    Lloyd: the fact that Apple has chosen something other than the clickwheel as their interface on the touchscreen iPhone in no way repudiates that UI for the iPod. It simply means that in this context, Apple decided on something different: a full touchscreen, with virtual controls. As to why no virtual clickwheel, again, in this context, something may work better, given screen size, technology, etc.
    But it’s not a difficult concept to imagine that one UI is better for one device, the other for another device.

    But the bottom line is this: with any consumer device, it’s often difficult to label something objectively better, because, ultimately, with consumers it is a subjective choice. It’s not like the business market, where businesses have to choose based on efficiency, security, etc. Consumers choose on a variety of factors, including simple emotional appeal.

    It’s kind of like with TV shows and movies; it’s all a matter of personal preference. All one can objectively speak of are the sales figures, and also the reaction of the audience and professional writers/critics (not that the opinion of the audience or critics is objective, but one can objectively note what the predominance of such opinions are).

    So with the iPod and the clickwheel, all one can really do is cite sales figures, and what people are writing and saying about it. In both cases, the reaction has been mostly positive.

  • Vulture

    Nice article and definite logic behind the arguments. As for touch screen PDAs, I am using a treo700wx and with the RhinoSkin (always on a PDA you carry). The D-pad makes it usable w/o opening the case.

    Sure it is a compromise, but so is a BT headset to what we really need :Coclear like implants that connect to our gizmos.

    I think touch screen would be better if they had a working areas at least as large as your hand.

  • Vulture

    Nice article and definite logic behind the arguments. As for touch screen PDAs, I am using a treo700wx and with the RhinoSkin (always on a PDA you carry). The D-pad makes it usable w/o opening the case.

    Sure it is a compromise, but so is a BT headset to what we really need :Coclear like implants that connect to our gizmos.

    I think touch screen would be better if they had a working areas at least as large as your hand.

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