Back-side user interface on Tablet?

  • Posted: 18 January 2010 12:54 AM

    We’ve heard that the User interface on the Tablet will be the biggest surprise from Apple. 

    We’ve heard rumors that users should be ready for a steep learning curve regarding the new device..

    “The virtual keyboard was the real innovation of the iPhone; the tablet needs to bring this to the next level.”

    Could Back-side typing be the surprise?  The more I think about it the more it makes sense.  Its revolutionary and its apple.  No surprise there..

    The question and semi-worry is short term the stock may dive on the tablet presentation as many may be initally scared off by this completely new interface..

    Thoughts??

    http://howlongtoretire.posterous.com/back-side-typing-interface-for-the-islate-i-m

         
  • Posted: 18 January 2010 03:40 AM #1

    If it’s true, I think this will be in addition to the existing iPhone interface. Just as Apple has stuck doggedly to the one button mouse for nearly twentyfive years (I suspect 50% of people still don’t know what right clicking does on their Windows PC’s “I just use the other button”), I don’t expect iPhone’s “obvious” touch interface with popup keyboard to go away. Yet the Qwerty keyboard only exists because of the historical requirement to build a simple mechanical typewriter about 150 years ago.

    The truth is, we need better interfaces to talk to machines, and like handwriting or typing, they take a bit of learning. People have demonstrated better keyboards, including chording keyboards, for decades. Some could have been winners if it weren’t for the need to learn new motor skills. I had a Microwriter Agenda myself 20 years ago.

    Snow Leopard introduced new appearances for several features that seem to give advance warning of new ways of interacting with OSX. It seems unlikely we’ll see a full keyboard replacement purely by means of blind reverse side gestures, yet that’s partly what’s needed. The touch, slide, and lift keyboard technique, guided by visual feedback is something most iPhone users learn to do. Why shouldn’t the same iPhone popup keyboard also respond interactively to rear surface chorded gestures, in a way that’s as quick to learn as the original iPhone keyboard, on account of realtime visual feedback. (It’s quite amusing to turn you magic mouse upside down and work it like a magic iPhone. Magicprefs can tell display what your Mac is seeing.)

    Stock dive? Maybe a wobble. But if the querty keyboard can make it for 100 years without Steve Jobs launch, I don’t think there’s much to worry about. After all, Apple removed the command line from the personal computer, and the world followed. The good news is, it took Microsoft 12 years to catch up, and Apple won’t be so complacent this time. Nobody had a problem using either the Mac, or the iPhone’s novel interface (even though plenty claimed blackberry was better).

         
  • Posted: 18 January 2010 10:22 AM #2

    Thanks for the referral link. If they implement it, they’ll want to show some demos with regular people using it. Kids and older folks.

         
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    Posted: 18 January 2010 01:19 PM #3

    Flaky forums munched my first reply.

    I don’t have a problem learning a new interface, but rankle at Apple’s inability to include the Dvorak keyboard layout on the iPhone OS.  If/when a tablet drops, regardless of how they implement the keyboard, they’d better give me Dvorak. Or I might just have to stage my own riot.

    It’s encouraging to see others now actively promoting a tablet from Apple. It took me over three years to turn many on this board to ‘the dark side’. Technology and/or sentiment have finally caught up!

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    Posted: 18 January 2010 01:26 PM #4

    rezonate - 18 January 2010 05:19 PM

    Flaky forums munched my first reply.

    I don’t have a problem learning a new interface, but rankle at Apple’s inability to include the Dvorak keyboard layout on the iPhone OS.  If/when a tablet drops, regardless of how they implement the keyboard, they’d better give me Dvorak. Or I might just have to stage my own riot.

    It’s encouraging to see others now actively promoting a tablet from Apple. It took me over three years to turn many on this board to ‘the dark side’. Technology and/or sentiment have finally caught up!

    Suggestion: Create an APP FOR THAT, and get rich?

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    Posted: 19 January 2010 12:21 PM #5

    In theory it would be cool. For me it would be an absolute deal breaker. Not everyone is a touch typist. I HAVE to look at the keys. I use all 10 fingers but I have to look at the keyboard to know where they go. If this was the only way of inputting data I simply could not use the device.

    It’s a neat idea but in the real world I suspect it would dramatically reduce sales.

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    Posted: 19 January 2010 12:31 PM #6

    If the tablet runs system with cursor, I see great possibilities with touchpad on back.  My feeling is moving a cursor around by accelerated sensing on the back of the tablet would be very intuitive.  But, iPhone OS doesn’t use a cursor.

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    Posted: 19 January 2010 12:51 PM #7

    OK A Touch-Pad on the back, that would work. I could get used to that fairly easily and it would be very useful.

    Though I do expect Apple will introduce something completely different from any of our ideas. Something that makes us all say “D’oh, why didn’t I think of that”.

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  • Posted: 19 January 2010 10:03 PM #8

    Due to an accident with a table saw many years ago, I am missing some finger tips on my right hand. So, I am a two finger typist. Right now I use a QWERTY keyboard and I hope Apple does not change things as I would have to relearn typing that I learned 50 years ago. In any case, the iPhone keyboard is so small it is not clear to me how you can use touch typing. Comparing my typing speed with my wife’s touch typing, I am almost as fast.

         
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    Posted: 20 January 2010 06:18 AM #9

    Hopefully one of the backside gestures will provide the option to lock the screen orientation. I find the auto-rotate ‘feature’ of the iPhone mildly annoying. Combined with a powersaver gesture (screen off when put down for 5 minutes) and a page turn gesture, I’d guess typing is probably not in the mix. At least not (as stated) as the primary input method, just an option. In my humble opinion, an unlikely option.

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    Posted: 22 January 2010 09:35 AM #10

    Here is a really well thought out article about the possible tablet interface. Its not about back side interface, but it didn’t seem prudent to start a new thread.

    Why the desktop interface is passe, and what will replace it.

    apple tablet interface must be like this

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  • Posted: 22 January 2010 10:55 AM #11

    stevereel - 22 January 2010 01:35 PM

    Here is a really well thought out article about the possible tablet interface. Its not about back side interface, but it didn’t seem prudent to start a new thread.

    Why the desktop interface is passe, and what will replace it.

    apple tablet interface must be like this

    While I agree with the article in general, it doesn’t really advance the state of the speculation about input devices.

    I think the tablet (if it exists!) must have the iPhone touchscreen input. It may have a back side interface as well, but if so, by default it will work very much like the front interface, with added on screen feedback to let you “see” your fingers through the tablet.

    So that you can use the tablet standing on the coffee table or in the dock, I would expect you to be able to operate it just the same way again, using an iPhone or even a magic mouse for the touch interface (holding them with two hands like a tiny tablet). I would expect a physical bluetooth keyboard to work too. How else are you going to work through your emails?  A back side interface could certainly do away with the iPhone’s home button (which would be problematic for the larger tablet), leaving just the sleep/power physical button. So - works like an iPhone, but includes extra input techniques for you to learn at your own pace if you need them.

    The rumours of this being a multi-user device to leave in the lounge or on the kitchen countertop for family use makes sense to me. You already have access to your stuff on your iPhone (and computer if you have one) but the tablet gives a third, most comfortable way when you’re neither on the go nor single task focussed. That is, it’s the optimum tool for the bulk of your screen-facing time, despite falling short of both PC and smartphone for specific tasks.

    [ Edited: 22 January 2010 10:58 AM by sleepygeek ]      
  • Posted: 25 January 2010 05:15 AM #12

    On this forum and elsewhere, there are mixed feelings about a rumored back-side touch interface. Though people seem intrigued by the idea, some are (rightly) skeptical about the usability of touch input on a surface that isn?t visible:

    geoduck - 19 January 2010 04:21 PM

    In theory it would be cool. For me it would be an absolute deal breaker. Not everyone is a touch typist. I HAVE to look at the keys.

    But what if Apple provides a way to see your back-side input? What if your input touches and gestures on the back create ?shadow? images on the front display? The ?shadow? could be translucent (with user-adjustable density) and would overlay the on-screen buttons or links in the UI. Instead of watching your fingers, you would see virtual fingerprints. If the shadow UI were well-implemented, I think it would quickly become intuitive for most users.

    I have no knowledge of what Apple will release on Wednesday or whether they have even considered a back-side UI, but if a tablet is announced, I expect it will have something new in the interface that we haven?t seen before. Holding and tilting a 10-inch tablet is not as easy as the simple one-handed act of holding an iPhone, so I believe the mechanics of the tablet Multi-touch interface will have to evolve to allow for this and to suit a larger canvas. I don?t think that Apple will disappoint us.

         
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    Posted: 27 January 2010 11:21 AM #13

    The tablet is going to be like the old theremins. It will support touch, but mostly you won’t have to. Between physical motion (quick ‘flip’ to the left turns the page), touch, and gesturing in front of it, it will be tremendously radical.

    Just my guess to add to the list.

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