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Geek Culture / Is anyone else annoyed with how much touch interfaces are taking over?

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Dark Java Dude 64
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Posted: 22nd Feb 2017 08:09 Edited at: 22nd Feb 2017 08:16
I personally hate it. I prefer interfaces with actual clicky, tactile buttons any day. Sure, touch interfaces absolutely have their places, like on smartphones or tablets. I totally agree with those uses. But it seems that a wide variety of consumer electronic devices, which would normally have clicky buttons, are being taken over by touch interfaces.

For example, I recently received a Samsung Gear VR for my birthday. It's pretty awesome and all, but the main input (besides the orientation of your head) is a little five button touch interface on the side of the unit. It's incredibly finicky and heavily hinders, in my opinion, the usability and functionality of the headset.

Another example, I recently saw an unboxing video for a pair of wireless headphones. How are they controlled? Another five button touch interface on the side, which the user can't even see when using the thing! Who thought that would be a good idea? Even if the buttons are contoured so the user can find them, the user will almost certainly make accidental inputs while attempting to find the correct button.

And then the buttons on the bottom of Android smartphones, ahhh!! Thankfully the home button is tactile on most phones, but the application, menu, and back buttons are usually touch based. Even after owning multiple phones like this for four years, I still accidentally touch those buttons all the time.

I've even heard of cars where all of the buttons and knobs on the center console have been replaced with individual touch switches! And I'm not talking about Teslas, which use a touchscreen (the added functionality of a touchscreen justifies it IMO). How in the world is the driver supposed to adjust anything without taking their eyes off the road???

I don't really have an issue with touchscreens. It's mainly when a physical button, switch, dial, etc is replaced with a touch switch that really irks me. With a normal button, you input commands to the device by pressing in a specific place. This is something that's relatively difficult to accidentally do. But when merely coming in contact with part of a device commands the device to do something, it's a recipe for constant accidental input.

It seems to be a case of form and marketability over functionality. Perhaps other people don't mind it or maybe they even like it? I personally think it's a catastrophe in modern product design. What do you guys think?
"I do quite enjoy quoting myself, and I do so often. It's very fun." - Myself
BatVink
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Posted: 22nd Feb 2017 08:37
It's more touchscreen than touch switch, but the MacDonalds screens are horrendous. No matter what you press, you end up with MacDonalds food, and that is just the worst outcome I can imagine.
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CJB
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Posted: 22nd Feb 2017 09:13
@BV


I have to agree with the OP. My old Nokia 6210 with T9 Predictive text was fantastic. You could text one handed, without looking, and know exactly what you've entered. Have you tried sending a text with a modern smartphone? It requires your FULL attention, and even then you're more likely to spend most of your time correcting the auto-correct than actually entering your message - no wonder they've been banned for driving!

And the lag you get with touch devices often make fast action arcade games feel lacking. Bring back the hard-wired kempston!
Green Gandalf
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Posted: 22nd Feb 2017 17:18
I agree completely - only more so! I'm discovering the joys of posting from an iPad and am really struggling with the controls. On more than one occasion a stray finger has touched the Post Reply button before I've completed my message.

@BatVink I feel sorry for you.
Seppuku Arts
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Posted: 22nd Feb 2017 21:46
What's more concerning is when you go to Burger King, try their touch screens and STILL end up with a McDonalds. Or go to a Byron burger, thinking by paying £10 for a burger that it'd be all special and gourmet and fancy, to find it's not that much nicer than what you get in Wetherspoons, I guess pretentiousness is expensive.

With the discussion at hand. There's appliances like washing machines that do it too and with NFC, so you can save your programs in your phone. I am in a half mind about it, for some things, it can be nice an styling, maybe like on my soundbar, plus as I have my keyboard and controllers near it, I can accident put something against it and push a button, I'd need my fingers to touch it. So in my set up, it's least convenient, as it is responsive too, plus I still have my soundbar remote, if I want actual buttons. I didn't like it on my old TV, especially as they weren't always clear when I am pressing. But the monitor I replaced it with, has a "joystick" control on it sitting at the bottom and tucked out of the way, which I think is a better option on a monitor that having buttons on the front or side (particularly if you're trying to eliminate a bezel as much as you can) or having some form of touch response. It is logical in how you use it. That I think is the sort of thing that should be the future with screens getting thinner and bezels becoming more non-existent.

I agree that they do have their place, but at least as a consumer, I have a choice where I end up spending my money and one phrase that Jeku used to say in discussions here, "speak with your wallet", which is a phrase that makes a lot more sense to me now that I've worked in customer services and dealing with complaints (just because somebody is unhappy, doesn't mean a lot in the grand scheme of things, but if a lot of people don't like it and don't spend their money, then they have to adapt). At the end of the day, people will design things to what they think people want, if we don't want them, we don't buy them and if they aren't selling well enough, then they have to go back to the drawing board. And manufacturers will often test the water with new concepts first before they go 'all in'. Hence I've seen ranges of products get released, that don't last long, but some that do. I doubt I'd get headphones with any touch controls, in fact, I am very happy with my HyperX's and doubt they'll get replaced for a long time.

A car with them, would not appeal to me at all, but then I am learning to ride a motorcycle within the next two months and planning on getting my bike within that time, so a car with touch controls will DEFINITELY not appeal to me, I cannot drive a car.

However, some people do like it, oddly. So as long as the market gives me stuff I want with buttons and them what they want with touch controls, I am indifferent. If they phase many forms of button controlled things, I might be miffed. ESPECIALLY if I have to use a touch screen keyboard, but I sincerely doubt they'd replace membrane or mechanical keyboards, but sit as an alternative. Mainly because feedback is essential for a lot of things, like touch typing as well as gaming. Image playing an FPS with just touch controls? I'd lose my mind.
Dark Java Dude 64
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Posted: 22nd Feb 2017 22:03
You make a lot of good points, Sepp! I guess it's true that the company has to test the waters with a new product before going all in, perhaps that's what we're seeing.

You also brought up a good point about them on the soundbar, where it's harder for other objects to accidentally press the buttons. I suppose when it's a stationary device that isn't heavily manipulated by the users, like a washing machine or a soundbar, it seems to work pretty well. But when it's something small and mobile, like a phone, gahh!!

I've gotta admit, I've used the new touch based home button on Apple's new iPhone 7, and it's actually not that bad. It's touch sensitive, of course, but you must apply pressure before it will do anything. And the vibrational feedback actually feels pretty identical to a real tactile button. When I first pressed it on one of the displays at the store I work at, I didn't know that it was a touch button, and I didn't notice it or think anything of it. When someone later told me it wasn't actually a physical button, I was rather taken aback! So I think touch based buttons do have an application where they require pressure to operate and give physical feedback. I think the applications are niche, though, and mainly for style. Or as Apple claims, "waterproofing".

If a phone with a touch screen had that kind of interface, where you could actually touch items on the screen, but would need to apply pressure before it would do anything (and it would provide vibrational feedback as well), that would be neat. Apple's 3D touch is sort of like that... But it needs a lot of improvement.
"I do quite enjoy quoting myself, and I do so often. It's very fun." - Myself
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Posted: 23rd Feb 2017 17:10
I hate those stupid non-buttons so much.
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BatVink
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Posted: 24th Feb 2017 07:17
My sound bar has touch buttons. I have put small blobs of blue-tack along the top so I can find the right buttons in anything other than bright sunlight
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Jeku
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Posted: 26th Feb 2017 17:11 Edited at: 26th Feb 2017 17:12
I agree! I bought my grandma's boyfriend a laptop for his birthday, and it is a Windows 10 touchscreen one. I originally thought it would be great and he wouldn't need a mouse, but interfaces use a lot of "hover" actions traditionally that you can't get with touchscreen. You can't simply retrofit or tack a touchscreen onto a traditional interface that's always been mouse-enabled, without sacrificing a lot of the original behaviour and losing features.
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Dark Java Dude 64
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Posted: 26th Feb 2017 18:42
Quote: "You can't simply retrofit or tack a touchscreen onto a traditional interface that's always been mouse-enabled, without sacrificing a lot of the original behaviour and losing features."
Much agreed! See, here's what I think would be neat. It would be an interface like Windows, where there's both hover and click functionality like you mentioned. Simply touching the screen would only be equivalent to moving the mouse around or hovering, and wouldn't actually click. In order to click on something, the user would not only need to touch the screen in that location, but they would also need to apply an intentional amount of pressure. The device would at that moment provide a realistic haptic feedback (not just a simple vibration, but more like what Apple does with the iPhone 7 or those haptic touchpads). This way, a person could move their hand and fingers all over the screen and it wouldn't do anything unless a certain amount of pressure was applied, and it would feel like the screen physically 'clicked'.

I heard several years back, but haven't heard anything since, that researchers were experimenting with using electrostatic phenomena to give touchscreens realistic texture feedback. For example, the entire surface of the touch screen would have a static charge applied to it. As the user slid their finger across the screen, this static charge would be varied with proportion to the individual microscopic bumps the user's finger would feel on a real surface (like wood, metal, leather, etc), generating a feeling of the actual material. Now that would be neat, a surface that can simulate the texture of most any other surface.
"I do quite enjoy quoting myself, and I do so often. It's very fun." - Myself

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