Physical interface comparisons: Multi-touch v Touch screen

I've owned my iPod Touch now for just over a month, so I thought I'd put down some observations on this interface against traditional touchscreen interfaces.

I do like the multi-touch concept. However, one thing I've found is that the lack of a stylus or other pointing tool does make control choices less straightforward. What do I mean by this? I'll explain.

If I take the example of a palm application with a complex interface, like SoundPad by miniMusic.


The interface for this app is of course designed for a touchscreen device. The controls are to be used with a stylus and are small and can be quite close together. All of this is fine when working with a stylus.

However, imagine this interface, or something like it working on an iPhone / iPod Touch. It would need to be quite different or at least enhanced in some way in order to work effectively.

The same is true if you think of something like Bhajis Loops, or many other applications.

So, does this mean that we won't see apps with the kind of sophistication that the examples above have? Or, will developers need to think of new ways to tweak interfaces and utilise the additional possibilities afforded by the accelerometer?

I don't know, but I think it will be interesting to see what traditional Palm OS developers like miniMusic do when they start to release their iPhone apps.

4 comments:

robman84 said...

Overall I prefer a smaller interface with more controls and using a stylus. However, where the iPod/iPhone currently wins is the slickness of the user experience. Everything just moves so quickly and smoothly it is a very satisfying experience. For now I'll stick with my iPod, WM6 phone and NDS - I couldn't give any of them up! If someone came out with a windows mobile phone with a screen like the iPod's (i.e large, high res, multi-touch), stylus control and a GUI/CPU with the ooomph to shift everything around at speed I'd be a very happy man.

Kimmo said...

I'm not 100% sure about this, but I've read that it's possible to use a capacitive touch screen (such as in iPod Touch) with a special stylus. That kind of screen requires the faint electric charge of a human finger to work, so using a stylus that relays that charge might be possible - a metallic stylus maybe, I really don't know. :) But I know for a fact that trying to use e.g. iPod Touch with leather gloves doesn't work.

Of course, this all could be prevented by Apple by calibrating the screen so that it only registers an electric "blob" the size of an average finger tip and nothing smaller. Even now the screen doesn't register "blobs" that are larger - the touch of your palm for example.

Palm-Sounds said...

I know what you mean. I keep waiting for that perfect device that just ticks all the boxes, but I still haven't found it.

Anonymous said...

"I keep waiting for that perfect device that just ticks all the boxes, but I still haven't found it."
Very much in the same boat. I tend to think that the whole touch screen thing sounds great but isn't ideal in practice. The most involving and fluid experiences ive had with mobile sequencing have been using lsdj and ltgp tracker. I think a D-pad and a few buttons feels great and instrument like because you rarely have to change hand positions. Using a stylus feels (to me) a bit awkward and picky in comparison.