Smart-phones and tablets do something that no piece of mainstream tech has done since the creation of the mouse over four decades ago; They give us a new way to interact with hardware and software. A way that makes the whole experience of using a computer more human.
I am, of course, talking about touch. But when I use the term ‘computer’ I am referring to the phone sitting on your desk or the tablet that undoubtedly will be sitting on your desk, if not already, then within the next few years. I am not talking about the desktop or laptop that you probably rely on at the moment.
These devices don’t have touch in their DNA. People have been trying for years to introduce touch to the desktop. Increasingly, we are forced to use digital checkouts in supermarkets, clunky kiosks in the high-street and the not-quite-right touch screen laptops running Windows 7. These mutated machines are not, however, made to be touched. The experience feels a bit forced…somehow wrong.
Contrast this with the iPad. It doesn’t just make touch an acceptable way to interact with our pictures, the web, our music, or whatever. It makes it superior. In-fact it is more than just superior. It is a joy.
These new devices, ‘genetically engineered’ for touch, bring us closer to our technology. As sensory creatures we respond emotionally to the kind of interaction that these devices give us. This may sound ridiculous to some but the truth is that touch centric technology, done right, gives us a connection to our devices and software that we have not experienced before. One that’s more familiar, more natural and more human.
The Post-PC Apps
Companies such as Adobe are now taking a lead in bringing their applications to the next level. Creative applications, such as Adobe Photoshop, cry out for the extra dimension offered by these devices.
As any traditional artist will tell you, there are many things missing from the digital experience. You can’t feel the texture of the charcoal in your hand or smell the paint as you squeeze it from the tube. Our primary means of creativity and interaction are all based on our senses. They connect us to our environment.
In bringing Photoshop to the realm of touch, something changes. A new connection with the creative process is made. Something feels good about it. It becomes more…enjoyable.
Portable, Tactile and Instant-On
Even surrounded by so much technology I still take a pen and paper with me into a meeting. The paper is always there, the pen always to hand. I don’t need to heft around my brick of a power supply or wait for the right program to load. I can sketch out things quickly on a piece of paper and hand it around. I don’t need to find a projector or worry about windows update trying to re-boot my computer an hour or so in.
Again, this will change. Increasingly you see iPad’s hand in hand with roving reporters on the TV. Simultaneously recording what’s being said, reading their interview questions and connecting them to their viewers twittering away at home.
They hold their Post-PC like a clipboard or a phone. It’s their tool. Somehow more of a tool than their old PC used to be. More tactile. More…normal.
There are three things I carry with me at all times: my wallet, my keys and my phone.
The very fact that our phones are always with us is reason enough for the smart companies out there to make sure its their software and their brand that sits quietly in our pocket, always close to hand.
Then there are the really smart companies. The ones that realise software can go beyond mere form and function; the ones that realise software can become that little bit more…human.