A Touch Less Sensitive

Young Girls Operating Cell Phones with a Young Boy (10-14) Standing Behind ThemOften we are so excited by our new product feature that we over use it and forget to consider when it will be less helpful. I experimented with an early touch screen at the Royal College of Art in 1981, but we still don’t appear to have learnt when to use them and when not to.

The next “must have” feature for smartphones

Watching people use your products really is vital if you are to improve usability. Some smartphone designers appear not to be doing so.

This holiday season I witnessed the “smartphone photo share fumble” over and over again.

It goes something like this: “Oh, let me see if I have a photo of our dog / beach house / baby / girlfriend on my phone to show you”, followed by numerous proddings and swiping of the touch sensitive screen. They find the photo and gingerly pass the phone on, carefully holding it only by the edges where there are no controls. The recipient, of course, is either smartphone klutz, or has a different model, and so grabs hold of it in completely the wrong way.

If the owner of said phone is lucky, the klutz has just zipped through to the embarrassing picture of the owner somewhat worse for wear in a compromising position with a colleague at the Christmas party. If the owner is unlucky they have just triggered the “I’ve successfully transferred all my data, now wipe this phone completely and initiate the self-destruct” function.

Come on guys, how hard would it be to be able to disable the touch screen so that Granny can see the moment when little Johnny was an angel in the school pantomime?

A Plane Case

Touch sensitive screens in the back of airline seats? Presumably this fantastically stupid idea came from someone who had never actually sat in an airplane and did not realise that seat backs are designed to fold forward.

Every time I get into my transatlantic seat, some Neanderthal with the dexterity of a bull in a china shop, sits down behind me and starts thumping the touch screen in front of him and built into the back of my seat. His intellect so weak that he does not realise they have not turned the system on yet, his big sweaty digits are too big to hit the menu options accurately and too pudgy to trigger the cheap touch screen effectively.

The result is that I spend the first hour of my flight being bounced backwards and forwards in my seat whilst my fellow passenger grunts in frustration behind me, trying ever more forceful methods of interacting with the screen.

Did they trial touch screens in the field before they installed them, or did they just assume that it was such a blindingly obvious whizzo idea that would save lots of money on controls, that it did not need trialling? Hmm, I wonder.

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