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Tapworthy by Josh Clark

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Chapter 8. Swipe! Pinch! Flick!

WORKING WITH GESTURES

COMPUTING HAS ALWAYS BEEN an arm’s length activity. For decades, we’ve used software from a distance, mediated by screen and mouse and keyboard—work by remote control. The touchscreen collapses this awkward model, closing the distance to make computing at once more immediate and personal. Just touch the content you want to work with: it’s a direct and decidedly more humane approach to working with personal gadgets. Because touch interfaces lean on interactions we know from nudging and poking real-world objects, they lend themselves to more naturally intuitive experiences.

The affection of adoring iPhone owners aside, however, it’s not all cooing and caresses. Even as this new generation of oh-so-personal computers clears away some dusty conventions of computing, new opportunities create their own dilemmas. Not only can you drag, flick, and pinch the iPhone’s virtual objects, but the touchscreen enables a broad range of gestures—the onscreen shorthand of taps and swipes that make your iPhone do your bidding. Some of those gestures are immediately evident (tap a button to “push” it), and others are quickly discovered (swipe a screen to move to the next, or pinch to zoom in and out). But other gestures, especially those that don’t borrow from familiar physical interactions, aren’t as easy to guess, and some multifinger gestures are just plain awkward. A tapworthy interface provides savvy, gesture-based shortcuts but also strives to ...

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