Given the fact that touchscreens have become nothing but the “in” thing to do, it seems like most every innovation with the Internet Tablet focuses on making it finger-friendly. Now, there’s nothing wrong with it, and personally I prefer it. But, what would happen if we addressed the UI from a perspective of being optimized for use with a stylus?
As much as sometimes we don’t want to admit it, using the stylus is sometimes the most effective way to navigate around the tablet. Here are a few recommendations for making the stylus more effective:
- Making actions such as tap and hold more evident on things like text, icons, and when items are highlighted by showing a star or some kind of indicator that there are some additional functions
- When scrolling web pages and long documents (PDFs, etc.) with the stylus, show trails that accelerate or decelerate scrolling speed as well as FF/RW buttons to do a quick page up/down action on the page
- In applications that feature forward and back, allow for gesture actions with the stylus to go forward and backward (essential in full-screen mode)
If you will, the point here is keeping the stylus in your hand, and a part of the interaction of the tablet that finger-friendly UIs expose.
I want to break this up into two subsections, handwriting and keyboard.
- In terms of handwriting we can look at having a transparent writing pad appear over writable sections (when the focus cursor is activated for those items)
- Improve the sensitivity of the handwriting engine so that letters that are written together can be easily trained and recognized (maybe some type of AI can be added here)
- Allow for users to not have to lift the stylus, but at every “stop” and “direction change” the letter is recognized.
- Change the location of the word compted words to the top of the virtual keyboard, keeping the space bar free from being possibly taken up by too long a list of words
- Transparency could be nice here too
Thinking About Different Needs
I know that we normally want to think about things in a way that seems comfortable to us, but the truth of designing a user interface is that you are making something that is comfortable to be learned for someone else. Fingers are great, and painting with them can really amount to some neat artwork. But for those that like to use a brush, attention has to be paid to them too, because some really nice masterpieces can be made when we make sure that the canvas, paints, and brushes have been made with them in mind too.