Comments on

Touch of Evil

Original entry posted: Wed Oct 29 16:49:36 2008

wheat @ Wed Oct 29 15:58:31 2008 EST

I have to balance my general agreement with your opinions on this subject with my unabashed love of my iPod touch (and secret longing for an iPhone to replace my RAZR).

While I sometimes miss the click wheel of my old 4th gen iPod, I've gotten used to the new way. And I like the apps. So, at least for that device, it works.

On the other hand, I love my iMac keyboard and wouldn't want to have to gum up my monitor by putting my hands on it.

But tech folks starting with the technology (rather than the problem) and working out from there is typical but, as you rightly point out, wrongheaded.

Thomas @ Wed Oct 29 16:48:56 2008 EST

There's an important distinction that you've (pardon the pun) got your finger on there, and it's largely related to the form-factor and the applications. Touchscreens became prominent in small-form-factor devices precisely because of the desire to bring powerful GUI applications to mobile platforms without relying on mice or trackballs. But they've never been a great experience, just the best of a bad lot.

I don't think that's changed today, particularly. The selling point for apps on iPhone or Android hasn't been the touch interface, as far as I can tell. It's the combination of data connection and relatively high-powered processor that have produced the more interesting uses.

Switching from Palm and Windows Mobile to Symbian, I really expected to miss the touchscreen. To my surprise, I don't, with a couple of small exceptions (there's no doodling/art apps on S60, for good reason, but those aren't really finger-viable either). I think Nokia shows that you can do serious smartphones without it, for the most part.

That said, I still carry a folding keyboard for any time I have to enter more than a few lines of text. The form factor of anything phone-sized, touch or T9-based, simply isn't suited to the speed and comfort of real keys.

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