Roman’s Rants: Touchy typy
7th February 2 Comments
During the past weeks, I felt oddly content with the commerce and tech world around me. Maybe it’s because I’m so bloody busy right now, that all the rant potential went into project related stuff. But, having to communicate while on the go all the time made the swearing juices flow again. People, friends, we’ve all been deceived by the smartphone and tablet industry: one just cannot type on a fucking touch device!
Remember when Steve Jobs did his famous iPhone presentation in 2007? Remember when he showed the devices that were on the market then (eg. the Palm Treo or the Nokia E62) which had “little plastic keyboards” which took up lots of space? He then introduced a device that essentially came without almost any physical buttons and twiddly bits and focused on software doing all the user interface work. And that’s where it got all wrong because people began hammering away on frigging glass plates, trying to get half-decent sentences into their devices for crying out loud!
When the first typewriters were invented in the early 19th century, they already had something even the latest tablet devices cannot deliver: tactile feedback. You were able to feel every key as you were typing, and as technology evolved, this brought with it the ability to produce text without even looking at the machine – try that my dear iPad fellows. Later, with the rise of the first mobile phones and the advent of short messages, students could write texts blazingly fast under their desks.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for those devices as long as interaction is restricted to swiping and maybe keying in a URL. But writing longer texts is impossible. Everybody knows, everybody accepts it. However, don’t let the poor, shabby-looking typing-kid spoil the splendid party of shiny apps.
You might say: Hey, there’s voice recognition! Ah yeah, Siri my ass! Even if it were possible to get great recognition results for longer texts (it’s not) people want to interact with their texts, cursor through the lines and correct the odd word or two. You can tell your device to set your alarm clock, fine, the rest is purely experimental.
They’re also trying to come up with displays that change their form in order to produce some kind of feedback. Or send electric shocks through your fingertips to make you “feel” some kind of interaction. Or wire your brain to an email client.
I want my keys back.
(Image by Hannes Grobe (own work, Schulhistorische Sammlung Bremerhaven) [CC-BY-3.0])