TouchUI: The Misunderstood Paradigm Excerpts

Part 1 of my 2 part article on TouchUI is now up on DiceNews. In it I talk about the current state of TouchUI in the setting of responding to Josh Clark’s views on it. I want to make it perfectly clear, I think he is on the right track. However, he seems to miss some of what we have learned about user interfaces the past 25+ years.

In order to fit in the format, I pulled a section of the article where I brainstormed about how I believe a TouchUI should work as a foundation for adding custom gestures and interfaces. There are probably problems with some of these ideas, but it is just a cursory glance at what a baseline UI should have. I am throwing it in here for your consideration. As always: intelligent feedback is welcome.

Some are obviously inspired (“ripped off”) from WebOS, and some are from Android and iOS. However, for the most part a cohesive convention of how things should be done that is translatable to all manner of touch screens has not emerged. This is my “first” public swing, but I think about this stuff all the time, especially whenever I am using a frustrating interface.

STIG: Noivad’s VaporUI

If I were to design a default UI it would have the following base features available, in addition to buttons and conventions that follow an updated MHIG called the Standard Touch Interface Guidelines (STIG):

Closing an App/File Deletion/Peripheral Eject: swipe an icon diagonally down (upper-left to lower-right) to toss it in the trash (that’s where I used to keep my trash can in Mac OS 1–9 anyway).

Undo: two fingers slid diagonally up and to the left.

Redo: two fingers slid diagonally down and to the right.

Save/Send to “Holding Pen”/Copy: A quick flick vertically up and off the screen.

Context Sensitive Menu/More Options… A double tap would simulate a right-click across the board, and usually pull up a context sensitive menu.

Get Info/More Detail/Drill Down: Spreading 2 fingers to drill down into an entry. “Get (More) Info…” on text, Zoom Graphics by default.

Open App Prefs {1 Finger},System Prefs{2 Fingers}: An sweeping arc from upper left to middle would swing open a preferences palette.

Switch Tabs/Switch Pages {1 Finger},Switch Apps{2 Fingers}: Horizontal Swipes left-to-right or right-to-left.

Hover over: one finger held on a button or control for over a default of 1.5 seconds brings up contextual item such as the question mark in the article. (user-adjustable of course. Idea “courtesy” of Finderpop)

Combo Gesture: One could combine these gestures as well (i.e. preferences arc & spreading fingers would open advanced prefs.)

Open Calendar{1 Finger}, Open ToDo List{2 Fingers}: an arc traced from the top right corner to center.

Advanced Features/User Programmable: Three and four fingers added to any gesture could perform advanced actions and be customizable. If no custom action was set, a menu would pop up with possible actions.

Teaching the OS New Gestures: In iOS, use the same Settings>General>Accessibility>Assistive Touch>Create New Gesture… screen to record complex gestures and assign actions system wide and by app. (much like creating F-key or command keys activate menu options in OS X’s keyboard control pane.) Make a two finger double tap and spread finger combo bring up the gesture recorder by default. Steve Jobs said an app should never need more than 3 clicks/actions to do anything: Um, Apple, you are way beyond 3 clicks to get to some settings.

All defaults could be changed and saved individually or as gesture sets, exported and shared.


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