Category: developers journal

iPad vs. all other touch devices

Author: Daemon March 12, 2010

I know that for some of you this might be stating-the-obvious, but I will say it anyhow: absolutely no other device will be able to rival iPad in the foreseeable future.

Many will try, but all will fail.

What everyone else is doing (as far as I know, maybe someone will surprise me) is try to replicate the hardware iPad has – sleek tablet-like touch screen device, and then on top of that they slap Windows / Linux / any other operating system.

And this just does not work.

Those operating systems are made to be used with mouse and keyboard as primary interface devices, and as such absolutely cannot function in a world of touch interface. How do you scroll a website in a normal browser? You use mouse scroll wheel. And if there is no mouse scroll wheel, then you click and drag a scrollbar. Now take your finger and place it close to the scrollbar of your monitor – it is at least double or triple the size of it!

How would you close tabs with touch interface? Trying to poke into that small [x] is just impossible and impractical.
Let’s say that you want to access some software that is running from your Windows system tray (for the new ones: that’s the little row of icons at the bottom right). Try tapping on that with your finger. There is no way you could do it without accidentally hitting two other icons.

Windows and similar systems are made to serve environment where keyboard and mouse are present, and that is OK, since they were thought of and developed to serve that purpose. iPad and iPhone was developed from zero to serve touch interface.

But besides these obvious interface problems that cannot be easily solved for Windows based tablets, there are more issues that users will just not like. First of all, if your tablet runs Windows, it will require constant maintenance. You will need to install antivirus software, run periodic hard drive defragmentation or at least registry clean up, and install all sorts of addons to keep the system alive. Whereas iPad OS requires basically no maintenance at all.
Furthermore, Windows based devices have boot up time. Even if you have put it into sleep mode instead of full shut down, it still requires some time to wake up. iPad – swipe unlock, and you are ready to go. In normal day to day use iPad is always on, so to speak.

And that is just the basics of operating system and primary logic behind it. If you look more into software you use in your normal day, you will see how Windows based touch devices are just not possible. Scrolling through that Start Menu with your finger? Outlook? Word? MSN messenger? Photoshop? Insane & impossible.

iPad’s hardware, operating system and all applications are designed from scratch to be used through touch interface. Current competition just focuses to make hardware that is portable and has touch screen, completely ignoring software. What Microsoft and other should be doing is create competition starting from the operating system and usability logic, and the hardware part will easily come then.

Check out this review of Slate PC from Stantum on Wired.


    7 thoughts on “iPad vs. all other touch devices”

  • I agree with most of your article. But (big as a house) I do not agree with your lead:
    “I know that for some of you this might be stating-the-obvious, but I will say it anyhow: absolutely no other device will be able to rival iPad in the foreseeable future.
    Many will try, but all will fail.”

    You shoud see this first (and this is older then the iPad fo obout a year)

    Im not chearing for Microsoft here, there is allso Chrome OS (and they will soon be available). So I would go easy with that bold steatment “Many will try, but all will fail”. :)

    • Not sure Chrome will be even close to iPad OS. Seeing Google’s interfaces on their last 2 big projects, I am thinking that Chrome OS will be made for robots, lunatics and hard core programmer geeks. Google cannot make user friendly interface :) maybe they surprise me!

  • Great article!
    I would agree with you on the fact that everybody else is just doing the hardware – the same happened with the iPhone.
    Hey – let’s put a big touchscreen and we’ll take down the bloody iPhone! No, don’t put capacitive screen, let it be resistive and let’s have stylus with it. AppStore? Nah, we don’t need it :)

    That is one of the most important reasons why iPhone is still on the market, and is in the lead…

    • Yea, Appstore is the thing that will propell iPad into the sky. Even if other manufacturers manage to copy hardware and interface logic (and they eventually will) they will not be able to catch up with the volume of developers that develop day an night for iPad/iPhone.

  • interesting take on things Daemon! You make a lot of good points I had not thought of.

  • Why didn’t you mention Android OS and Android based tablets ?

  • the Ipad drives me nuts, because when I scroll, I accidentally hit links, ads, etc. I want to throw it out a window. Plus, the Youtube layout is ridiculous.

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