How developers can embrace touch | Mobile Devices | Mobile Entertainment

How developers can embrace touch

How developers can embrace touch
Daniel Gumble

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Devices / April 10th 2013 at 11:30AM

The rise and rise of touchscreen technology.

Touch technology is everywhere, but it’s taken us a long time to get to this stage. The theory for the touchscreen display was developed as far back as 1969 but it has only recently become affordable. Consumers today are happily enjoying using touchscreens on their tablets, smartphones and increasingly Ultrabook devices. And this isn’t just happening in phones and computers. Increasingly we will see touchscreen capabilities built into other household objects such as our refrigerators.

So what is the point of the touchscreen? Well, the main reason to include touch is it is much more intuitive than the keyboard or mouse, so consumers can interact with their computers more quickly and get an immediate response. This also means that touch-enabled computers are great for children because they can be taught to use them more quickly. And, consumers are starting to expect the touchscreen. More than once I have found myself trying to control my laptop using touch, having just switched devices from my tablet.

Intel is embracing touch. With the release of the Ultrabook, it is paving the way for a touch-enabled future. Uniquely, the Ultrabook has a keyboard and mouse as well as touch, so users can decide for themselves which method they use to control their device. The Windows 8 operating system has also been built as a touch-first system, and I expect we will start to see more and more touchscreen devices outside of the tablet/smartphone space. Developers should pay particular attention to touch and Intel is supporting them with tools and advice for developing for Ultrabooks and touch-enabled devices.

There are a number of considerations you should bear in mind when developing software and apps for touch-enabled devices:

Think about size and space – as touch is less accurate than using a mouse, make sure controls are large enough and have enough space between them otherwise your app will quickly become frustrating for the user.

Keep it simple – this is really important when developing for this type of user experience. After you have considered the point above about size and spacing, remember that the screen shouldn’t be too cluttered. So think carefully about what needs to stay in view at any given time.

Include feedback – users need to know when something is happening, so include visual effects, sounds and/or vibrations to provide feedback from the touch control. This just provides a more realistic experience and leads to fewer errors. Also, in terms of the application, response should be instant.

Remember that users need to interact in a natural way – Gestures have their own ‘language’. These outline the responses that should occur when users interact in a certain way with the screen. So for example, a pinch gesture should result in the screen zooming in or out.

Touch is an exciting development in computing and one in which developers can really innovate. For more advice, tips and resources, check out the Intel Developer Zone now. 

*This blog post is written by Softtalkblog, and is sponsored by the Intel Developer Zone, which helps you to develop, market and sell software and apps for prominent platforms and emerging technologies powered by Intel Architecture.