To touch or not to touch ??

It’s quite the hype at the moment, touch screens wherever you lay your eyes at. Touch screen phones, touch screen tv’s, touch screen cameras etc… etc…

My experience with touch screens is not really a good one… and I just wanted to write in, some of the common usability problems I had while using them.

I once purchased a particular phone, which was equipped with Windows Mobile OS and a nice large touch screen and a nifty small retractable stylus. Initially I was really happy with it (like what happens with every new gadget) however after a couple of hrs, I started detecting those little usability annoyances that were bugging me off.

First off… forget typing messages while on the move! Not that i recommend anyone doing this, but writing sms messages while driving or simply just walking was quite impossible. With a physical keypad, most of us are able to just type in an sms blindly, however this is not the case with touch screens since you can’t feel the buttons. You would have to actually look at the screen and tap the respective image on the screen to get the letters/icons you need. Sometimes it can be even more difficuilt when you are outside – depending on the type of screen you have since some of them are not really very visible outside.

Recent phones like the iPhone Touch thought of having touch screen features without the stylus. Whilst this is quite an improvement I still was unable to use the device effectively since I’m cursed with slightly large fingers. I tried an iPod touch last october while I was attending a conference in London and during my time in London I went to visit a Mac shop to try out the iPod Touch. Thankfully, I wasnt impressed – I would have ended buying me one!

I believe that LG have now come up with the touch screen tactile feedback, which is simply a small vibration to provide you with some feedback when you use the on screen touch features – I think that would be quite nice – although still not enough to make me switch to a touch screen phone.

Nokia will be coming out soon also with their own Symbian S60 Touch Screen Platform. I’m quite curious to see how Nokia will tackle touch screen use.

My conclusion definitely is that touch screens are a very nice touch to a phone (pun intended) however I would still love the option to have a physical keypad with the phone so that people on the move like me and people who feel that a physical keypad is better for them can enjoy both the touch screen features and keypad combined.

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