Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Post-Mouse Era

Apple has declared we are entering the Post-PC Era.  Previews shown at WWDC 2011 suggest we are actually entering the Post-Mouse Era.

Finger Gestures Rule! 

I am not talking about the gestures we were so proud of in high school.  Tablet and trackpad gestures are in our future.

RIM has made a good start with PlayBook margin gestures. The most common ones are familiar to PlayBook users.

Power on gestures are 1. side margin to margin and 2. vertical margin to margin:

Other common gestures are 1.  Show application menu  2. Show task picker  3. Switch to next task on left  4. Switch to next task on right  5. Show system menu  6. Show keyboard:

What else can RIM do?

First of all, gestures need to be customizable by a user. My preferences will likely be different than yours.  RIM needs to accommodate such preferences.

The power on gesture could be split to allow 1. ON = side margin to margin and 2. SLEEP = vertical margin to margin:

RIM can also address problems with the gestures that open the application menus or switch tasks:

What's problem?  Inexperienced users invoke these operations by mistake and get confused. I have seen many people inadvertently switch tasks when flipping through pictures or pages in an application.

A simple configurable preference provides a solution.  Use two part, out->in gestures to invoke these functions:

Now we have slightly different gestures in an application for paging and scrolling versus those used outside the application for task switching.  I have tested this new gesture with many users. They like it!

Other functions can leverage a left or right turn in the gesture.  For example, the following multipart gestures could be configured:

1. Open Camera  2. Open Browser  3. Close this task immediately 4. Open new file.

The specific functions don't matter.  RIM simply needs to use the margins more effectively to compete with the newly announced iOS 5 multitouch gestures.

Here are some special examples that could be used for things like: a secret login password gesture, initiate a system restart, verify a credit card PIN or do anything the user wants to make less than obvious.

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Of course if you make the gestures configurable, then if you grabbed my PlayBook to show me something, you'd quickly get confused and frustrated because the bezel gestures provide basic, necessary functionality (imagine not being able to get to the Start menu in Windows).

    Adding more gestures such as Open camera and Open browser, and making those configurable, is a good idea. That's additional or shortcut functionality, more like those "quick buttons" on some keyboards.

    One other minor point, the gesture you described for Close this task immediately could not work because it does not start in the bezel, and so the application functionality for Swipe left would override it even before you angled upward. The other ones are cool though.