Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
April 6, 201011:58 PM

Touch It

This is not another Blog post about Apple's launch of the iPad.

There's something a little deeper happening here, and it's not about whether or not the iPad (or any other pending touch tablet) is a success or not (but let's be honest, 300,000 iPads out the door in one day is still pretty impressive, especially when you consider that Apple sold more iPads on its first day than when it launched the iPhone). There's a-change that is happening (or has happened).

Most of the hardware we use to create media now seems old.

That's a big deal. Keyboard, mouse and even the laptop just looks so tired and old when compared to a touchscreen iPad. Touching a full screen and manipulating everything (including typing on the screen) with your fingers/hand is the present (and future). "I just can't seem to type on glass... it doesn't feel right." People said the same thing when the typewriter came out (it felt very foreign when compared to writing cursive), then the computer keyboard came out and people felt it didn't give the same feedback as a typewriter. What about mobile devices? For years people complained that they could never type with their thumbs... and then they did.

Touch changes everything.

It's much more human and yes, you'll get used to typing on glass... but look even further into the future (the not-so-distant future) when you won't be typing on glass, but you'll probably be typing in the air (hello, Minority Report!). Pause to reflect a little on this entire Blog post: most babies will grow up learning to type on something like an iPad (glass or a flat surface)... or on air. Keyboards are going bye bye. The mouse is going bye bye... in fact, everything except your personal touch is going bye bye.

That's going to change everything (once again)... and that's one major reason why we all need to pay more attention to the iPad (and all of the hype surrounding it).

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Joe sorge
    Mitch Joel

    Good morning Mitch,
    I'm typing my comment here on an iPad. What's most noticeable for me,was that i didn't even consider the idea of typing on glass as being groundbreaking as i was actually doing it, but i do in fact find it very easy and comfortable to do. It's a bit of a mindblower to think about how much devices like this one will change even the concept of the classroom and the textbook. I, for one, absolutely welcome the change, lots to learn, lots to learn. (hope the spellchecker worked on this sucker)

    Reply
  • Posted by Lois Ardito
    Mitch Joel

    I hadn't thought about the impact the "touch" sensation in our lives. Every new touch we experience from the first time our hands are guided to pet a cat or dog, holding a companion's hand to moving a bulky mouse around a mouse pad...all exciting moments. Apple has drawn us in with new "touch" sensations and I think you're right on......it's about touch!

    Loved reading this post...thank you.

    Reply
  • Posted by Tony Shimkin
    Mitch Joel

    While playing with the ipad in the Apple Store I realized how many smudges and fingerprints cover the screen the more you use it. If your intention beyond typing is to watch video or read a book or newspaper, keep a bottle of spray cleaner and a rag on you at all times.

    Reply
  • Posted by David Canton
    Mitch Joel

    I agree completely. This is revolutionary, and will fundamentally change first how we consume media, and secondly how we interact with computers.

    It will take some time before we collectively figure out how we can take advantage of this technology - but I challenge anyone to watch this video about Wired on an iPad, and not understand how game changing this is for media consumption.

    http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/02/the-wired-ipad-app-a-video-demonstration/

    Reply
  • Posted by Erik Bartz
    Mitch Joel

    I think your point really shines when you watch a kid who's never used the iPhone OS pick it up so fast. You can show them the basic multi-touch gestures once and they're set - then the only questions they have are about the apps.

    Reply
  • Posted by Steve Woodruff
    Mitch Joel

    I look forward to when typing itself basically disappears, and voice recognition finally makes the cut. Voice and touch (without typing) SHOULD ultimately be all we need. Until these devices have ESP, that is...!

    Reply
    • Posted by Chase Mann
      Mitch Joel

      While I agree about wanting to have touch and voice take away typing ... I wonder how long it will take people to become accustomed to others appearing to "talk" to themselves (voice input)?

      I still look at people with blue-tooth headsets weird since I don't use one and they look like a crazy person having a chat with themselves. :-)

      Reply
  • Posted by Mike Balneaves
    Mitch Joel

    A great overview of the reason you feel this is game changing Mitch, and some well thought out comments as well. I think in particular the multitouch functions will change the way we use these devices, especially when one considers how quickly voice recognition is improving.

    The point about the impact this could have on textbooks and in the classroom is excellent, and as this aproach becomes more prevalent we will find ourselves with a generation whose expectations of how they interface with media is completely foreign to ours.

    Reply
  • Posted by nick karantjas
    Mitch Joel

    Lets not forget it was Apple that brought us the mouse, initially expanding our interaction beyond the keyboard, and a successful graphical user interface. Seems only fitting that they are leading the market into the next level.

    Reply
  • Posted by Jon
    Mitch Joel

    Senses. When scent and eye poping marketing was glamourous on product. Now (or finally), touch and feel is the best connection a human can relate with a product. Having a pet, was probably the closest thing that could actually achieve this, but now technology has got us there. Xbox and gaming will soon launch exciting and entertaining apps that will enable us to achieve this.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Adding that extra sense of touch is very important and brings the user that much closer to the content they are watching, buying, etc.

    There is a video of a 2-year-old girl using an iPad up on Mashable

    http://mashable.com/2010/04/06/2-year-old-girl-uses-ipad/

    It is a little exaggerated but you can just how natural it is for her to use this machine.

    I agree with you 100% Mitch, this is the future. I am just bummed I missed out this for the first 26 years of my life.

    Reply
  • Posted by David Colburn
    Mitch Joel

    Years ago, as an undergrad, I took a course from George Whalley who was just finishing his translation of Aristotle's Poetics. He explained to us that the root of the word poetry referred to "making with your hands."

    Exciting and creative times lie ahead.

    Reply
  • Posted by Colin Bhowmik
    Mitch Joel

    Great post Mitch! There's one common factor between a typewriter, keyboard and mouse and that's tactile feedback. While kids will grow up typing on a glass screen and will become second nature, Apple being the innovative company they are, is always looking to improve the experience with their products.

    Being the tech-nerd that I am, I had to share a possible future development into the interaction with Apple touchscreens. An example from a recently filed patent by Apple http://tiny.cc/m7ent where a device would have hundreds of controllable "pins" underneath the touchscreen so when the keyboard is in use the "pins" for the QWERTY keyboard would pop-up for tactile feedback. It's pretty exciting when you think that if Apple were to give app. developers control of these "pins" they would be able to provide users a “phenomenal” experience. i.e. controls on a video game to shoot or pass, the developer would be able to control the "pins" below the virtual buttons on the touchscreen so the user would feel a natural sense of tactile feedback.

    Exciting times!

    Reply
  • Posted by Marco Prud'Homme
    Mitch Joel

    I am still waiting for my flying car...

    But I could sure take an IDesk (lifesize desktop touch screen) while waiting.

    Reply
  • Posted by Michael
    Mitch Joel

    I completely agree with you Mitch, and with Erik's comments. My four-year old son instantly understood how to interact with my iPhone the first time he picked it up. He was choosing, starting and playing games moments later, something that is much more difficult for him on a computer.

    Reply
  • Posted by Michel Fortin
    Mitch Joel

    Great article, Mitch.

    I posted about this recently, in that the wave of the future is more engaging media -- engaging in the "sense" sense. That is, visual, aural, and kinesthetic.

    The Internet/computers are not like radio or TV. They engage more senses. For example, radio, which is auditory, and TV, which is primarily visual, doesn't allow for much interaction.

    Then comes along computers and the Internet, which, with keyboard and mouse, becomes a bit more kinesthetic and interactive.

    However, I long thought that, the more tactile and direct the interaction, the greater the medium. Touchscreens definitely being one of them. Sure, touchscreens and PC tablets have been around for a lot longer, but Apple has allowed it to cross the chasm.

    Here's the post, if you're interested:

    http://www.michelfortin.com/touch-future/

    Reply
  • Posted by Tim
    Mitch Joel

    I think the difference here is you can't touch type on an iPad. Try resting your fingers on the keys. See what happens. And try to find your U and H keys (or F and J keys on a Qwerty) without looking. Perhaps your right and this is the future and people will change. But I remain sceptical. Besides, why didn't anyone change when the Dvorak Simplfied Keyboard was introduced? People tend to resist change, especially when it's beneficial. While many have bought an iPad, the vast majority have not. Not everybody is typing on and iPad and I doubt everybody will. The iPad is a real geek thing and I doubt that will change anytime soon.

    Reply
  • Posted by Elisabeth
    Mitch Joel

    I agree that this is a game-changer in bringing the computer experience to more people. I also love how everyone is talking about their 2-yr olds picking this up. But, you're forgetting a whole group of people.
    I work as a volunteer teaching computer skills to seniors. These are sharp, smart people that struggle with using a mouse (right-click or left-click) and for whom arthritis or stroke prevents them from really being able to use a mouse or keyboard properly. This experience has taught me how non-intuitive a computer's human-interface really is.
    Before you shrug off this generation as inconsequential, this will be us in a few short years. And there is a whole group of adults in their fifties (I know them personally) that just don't "get" computers. They fake it: they can barely do email.
    This just might be the sort of thing that lets everyone in.
    The only complaint I have is the price: Apple has, as usual, priced it too high. But, free market competition will take care of that.

    Reply
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