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Friday, October 28, 2016

Why Apple's take on the touch interface is better than Microsoft and Dell's

Yes, I believe that the touch interface is the way to go with working with your computer. Like the steam engine, automatic transmission, and color television, all of us will go through many iterations to get the darn thing right.


As I drove down Ventura Boulevard in the Valley the other day, every bus kiosk showed an ad for Dell’s XPS 13 notebook computer. It proudly proclaimed that it came with a touch screen, whereas the MacBook Air did not. Dell and Microsoft push this hard, that your modern notebook computer must come with a full-screen touch interface. Or you’re just not one of the cool kids. 

Hmm. I’m not longer a kid and have never been cool (although I do own Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue album). But I have been around several spins of this planet and several orbits around our sun, so I’ve seen a trend or two come and go. 

Apple likes the touch interface, too. They have a whole bunch of computing devices designed for a touch interface. I am sure they have observed how people use a real full-screen touch interface. 

To wit, they must have asked, “When do people touch the screen?” and “Where do people touch the screen?” Do they run their fingers all over the screen, or do they concentrate on certain areas?

I am presuming that they found that users only touched the screen a few times and they touched the same areas over and over again when they did. 

They also found that people like to touch buttons on a horizontal surface when they sit down. When they stand up, they prefer a vertical surface. My example of this is the light switch on the wall. Do you prefer to use it when you sit down or when you stand up?

So, people only touch a small part of the touch screen and they touch the same part over and over again. They also prefer to touch it when it lies on a horizontal surface.

And so the Apple Touch Bar was born. It lies in a convenient space on the keyboard, it can become whatever set of icons  you need to touch for a given purpose. It serves the same purpose as the use of iPads as second screens for your notebook. It’s just more convenient. 

I am sure that you will see similar touch bars on Windows PCs soon. Of course, they’ll have to pay a small fee to use Apple’s patent. 

Now who’s the cool kid?

Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog


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