[FoRK] The form factor is the application, part N (tablets, keyboards, couches, etc...)

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Wed Jan 20 05:43:57 PST 2010

I've said for ages that "the form factor is the application" --- and  
apropos tablets, while I have been a big cheerleader for years on that  
front I've also been skeptical that they'll replace e.g. laptops and  
other keyboarded devices.  I've said they'll generally be read-mostly  
devices, as you can't get away from the efficiencies of keyboards for  
text entry-intensive applications.  (Nb., convertibles and devices  
that can be used w/ external keyboards get around this, of course.)

Here's an input-UI innovation that might render that point-of-view  
re:  text entry and tablets incorrect:


Basically, the corner-anchored radial virtual keyboard design allows  
for thumb-typing ala texting w/o requiring stabilizing the tablet by  
putting it down.  Given how fast some folks can learn to enter text on  
tiny smartphone keyboards, this might well allow the larger devices to  
be practical for real text entry.  I doubt it'll suffice for e.g.  
development purposes, but it might work well enough for e.g. e-mail  
and document creation purposes.  We'll see...

(Seeing this brought back some vague recollection of seeing this kind  
of thing in some Apple patent application...  anybody have similar  
recollection / pointer to same?  Obviously, these guys were unaware of  
any such IP.  Back to barriers to entry... ;-)

Similarly, this next gizmo, while clearly being a piece-o-crap,  
suggests some intriguing possibilities for the use of on-screen  
display of applications on large, fixed screens  at some distance ---  
e.g., the living room setting:


Cool stuff.


PS - despite being an iPhone user since the initial launch, I still  
can't type well enough on its virtual keyboard (in either landscape or  
portrait) to make it tolerable for anything but the most trivial text  
entry.  So much so that I nearly traded it for a G-1 when they came  
out, but application lock-in prevented the transition.  My kingdom for  
an iPhone with a slide-out physical keyboard....

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