Touch-gesture generation right around the corner: A Developer’s Perspective

category : Development, for iPhone / iPad, for iPhone / iPad

Here are Fenrir, we’ve spent over a year working with tablets and have a close up feel for both the good and bad. All sales data points to tablets becoming an important platform for computing, both personal and business. GigaOM is reporting that consumers are increasingly turning to different devices throughout the day to accomplish tasks. This means smartphones and tablets.

We’re convinced that “touch-gesture computing” is not a passing fad.

Since the release of iOS, touch-based operations have become extremely common. Elementary school kids often look to touch a screen first before they grab a mouse.

Touch-based browsing and gesture browsing

Touch-based browsing and gesture browsing are currently different. Many iOS apps have implemented touch-based operations. The “touch-based” operations mentioned here refer to the easy-to-remember, easy-to-perform operations such as swiping and dragging. “Mouse gestures” are often mistakenly referred to as “touch-based,” especially in browsers. These are prevalent in Mac OS X. Mouse gestures are attractive to learn and use, but are something completely different to touch-based operations.

App development extended the idea of what was possible. Safari has implemented swiping to go back and forward for a while. Tweetie, acquired by Twitter in 2010, quickly spread after inventing Pull to Refresh. This innovative movement was developed outside of Apple.

And, ahem, the pioneer browser that implemented swiping the screen to switch between tabs in iOS was… our Sleipnir browser.

Good points and Bad points

The touching and moving of touch-based browsing feels like the natural way we move things around in the real world. It sort of just “makes sense.” Using operations like in real life removes the computer-y feeling, making it easier to get for non-computer-y people. This kind of intuitive design is important, since it welcomes in a larger user base. It also provides a better User Experience (UX). There is no need to accurately select small buttons and icons, the bane of every computer user’s existence. Using your device literally becomes less stressful. For smaller screens, with very high growth rates, the frame for operations can be made smaller so that more of the screen can be used.

“Intuitive” has its limits, however, Sometimes it is difficult to make plain how touch-based operations can be performed. Some standardization has occurred, touch-based operations have penetrated the general market, so there aren’t too many problems with basic gestures, maybe. But unlike hardware buttons, there is no sense of feeling, and since the screen often becomes hidden by your fingers there can be disadvantages when performing precise actions. These weak points are worked around by tricks such as displaying a magnifying glass above your finger for selecting text on iOS and sound responses.

Warning points and tricks for development

Because there are basic gestures being used for the screen itself in iOS such as scrolling and zooming, there is a necessity to keep adding new gestures. By bringing multiple meanings to basic gestures based on the user and app status such as scroll position, it is possible to keep everything simple.

The Mac version of the Sleipnir browser is developed as a touch-based browser for the touch-gesture generation expected to come. Swiping and pinching are used to operate tabs, for example. You may not be able to directly use touch gestures on the screen on Mac, but you’re already expecting to.

The rich animation that became popular on iOS and responses from the interface have been implemented. It is the browser that has been designed with the aim of achieving a truly “human” tool.

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