Monday, February 22, 2010
Finger is not a mouse
Well you must have have guessed almost correctly on what I meant by the title of the post. With an onset of touchscreen devices and cheaper technology support (Ipad) we are going to see a rush of applications for the NEW genre of interaction. However we can argue that the interaction model was already there in terms of touchpad in laptop and wacom tablets. Only difference is now we'll be interacting with the content directly !
But wait a second. We will discover some gaps in the granularity of interaction model of mouse/pointer and finger touch.
Starting with basic question, and coders will get it quickly. What are different events that we code for a mouse?
mousemove - trapping the movement of mouse without click
mouseover - when mouse moves over an area of target object
mouseout - when mouse leaves the area of a target object
mousemove - trapping the movement of mouse with click
mouseclick/mousepress - when a target object is clicked by mouse mouserelease - when a mouse is released after clicking a target object
The reason of coloring the events differently is to make the interaction models in touch application and mouse supported application apparent. You can't have the first 3 interaction models in a touch application. You need to have a visible pointer all the time in the application that control those events. In touch application the pointer is activated only when you touch the surface, but that becomes your click event.
Hence the fundamental interaction model is violated. For certain application and websites first three are the core of interaction design. And if they were to be ported on a touch supporting software, they need to be completely redesigned.
And now just think of Adobe Flash support on Ipad/Iphone/Itouch. If tomorrow Ipad/Iphone/Itouch has Flash support and users open the site that uses the first three interaction mentioned above, they are going to go mad on why the site/application is not working. Do we then invest of designing and building those sites/applications again? That will be and expensive affair in terms of cost and effort.
As an Interaction Designer and a Flash Developer this comes as frustration to me to design and develop the same content for different devices. Well there seems to be a unique solution to this though.