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Ask Slashdot: Where Is the Universal Gesture Navigation Set? 177

Posted by timothy
from the which-finger-does-what? dept.
dstates writes "As a mostly happy new iPad owner, I love having lots of apps, but I have got to ask, where is the universal set of gestures for navigation? Pinch and open mostly mean zoom out and in, but sometimes you tap to open, sometimes double tap. Sometimes right swipe is back, sometimes there is a back button, sometimes you just have to go to home and navigate back down. Reminds me of the early days of GUIs when every application had its own menu set with different top-level menus and different placement of various functions. Made life chaos for users. We have been there, done that, and gestures are much worse. At least with a menu, you had a printed tag you could read. Gestures are all magic handshakes until you know them. Seems like the tablet community should not have to learn the value of consistency all over again." What gestures would you like to see made standard in touch-based interfaces?
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Ask Slashdot: Where Is the Universal Gesture Navigation Set?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 17, 2011 @11:35AM (#35847968)

    i want to be able to flick off my tablet and have it grant root access to me. or at least make me a sandwich.

  • by Aphrika (756248) on Sunday April 17, 2011 @11:36AM (#35847974)
    Sometimes I poke her and get a giggle. Other times, a slap.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 17, 2011 @11:39AM (#35847988)

    Just right click!

    • So you hold two fingers on the screen and then lift one and set it down again? You heard it here first. Prior art on Slashdot.

  • when I first got into computer science my interest was at its all time high, years later the lack of standards (especially web development), have annoyed me so much I really don't want to code at all or look at code outside of work. Why can't we code once for all browsers? why can't database queries be more standardized? Why couldn't ms / *nix use common EOF and other attributes since they have known about each other for decades now? why do I need a 68 in 1 card reader ( I suspect to get more money out of m
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      why do I need a 68 in 1 card reader ( I suspect to get more money out of me than a 5-1 in card reader) Why does every electronic device needs its own adapter?

      On this note, (if you haven't already heard), the European Union are forcing a standardised mobile phone charger to be brought in, with all mobile phone manufacturers having to support it and no patents or trade secrets to prevent cheap generic chargers.

      That's the kind of stuff we need tbh, proper governmental regulation, businesses will fight tooth-and-nail to avoid standardisation if they think they can make more money (and there will always be at least one business who opposes it, if only to keep their m

      • IM really interested in both how Apple handles this and also what the definition of 'phone' will be.
  • Double tap to open (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Loomismeister (1589505) on Sunday April 17, 2011 @11:51AM (#35848102)

    In what bizarre app are you doing this. I've had one for a couple years and never heard of such a thing.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      In Android an example of double tap is the Android mapping app Locus which uses double tap to show the side bars (in case you choose to have them automatically hidden).

      For the rest well there is pinch to zoom, and swipes to move photos left/right or to pan a map. Honestly I don't know of any other touch gestures, really. I just don't know if they even exist. Having some extra hardware buttons compared to iPhone may help in not needing those gestures.

      And pinch to zoom doesn't even work in most apps, the An

  • by MrCrassic (994046) <deprecated.ema@il> on Sunday April 17, 2011 @11:55AM (#35848142) Journal
    Navigation on a tablet (or smartphone) OS across all the major ecosystems is leaps and bounds better than it is on the PC. Take the common action of opening a Control Panel for an application, for example. For many Windows applications, you'll find it underneath a "Tools" context menu. However, some applications that use alternative GUI toolkits (Qt, Gtk, etc.) will put it in the "Edit" context menu to stay consistent with Linux/OS X tradition. Then there are the applications that put it in weird places like "File" or something. An even better example is Firefox; one presses Backspace in Windows to go to the last page visited. The same action in Linux is ALT+left arrow. I think it's different in OS X too.
    • by Bogtha (906264)

      No, OS X is almost entirely standardised in this respect. To get to application preferences, you go to the application menu or hit cmd-comma. Pretty much the only applications where this doesn't work are full-screen games and apps mainly targeted at other OSs ported by people who don't care about platform conventions.

    • It's a menu, not a context menu. Also, Windows is the only oddball because there's never been a consistent place, although Tools seems to have become the standard until the Ribbon-style interfaces moved it to the nameless orb, now replaced by a menu button vaguely reminiscent of File. Also, I don't think the information about some of the toolkits is correct. Qt is capable of moving the preferences/options menu item on a platform-specific basis so it's always "right." Finally, your assertion that the prefere

      • Ctrl + left arrow works for going back on Firefox/Mozilla. I've always used that. Unfortunately, Chrome ignores it.

      • Alt + left arrow works for going back on Firefox/Mozilla. I've always used that. Unfortunately, Chrome ignores it.

        Ignore my previous caffeine-free reply mentioning that other key.

    • by w0mprat (1317953)
      Example is the dedicated 'back' button on an Android device. For example, you open an email app, then an email, then an attachment, tapping the back button takes you back each step of what you just did. Smart. Wish I had this for PCs where total control of app switching means you miss out on this elegance.

      I find my Ipod touch at a disavantage without a 'back' feature that is as TFA states, sometimes there or sometimes not.
  • on some other planet.

  • What about a way to display tooltips?
    You can't really hover a finger over a device (though it would be rather neat if the screen was sensitive to pressure, or to a finger nearly touching it).
    Also, why do so few devices implement long-press to get a (right-click) menu.

    • Re:Mouseover? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mcelrath (8027) on Sunday April 17, 2011 @12:52PM (#35848570) Homepage
      I have hover on my tablet pc... if the stylus is within about 1cm of the screen, it moves the mouse cursor. I still contend that the stylus on an active digitizer is a far superior user interface than your fat greasy fingers. Hey tablet manufacturers, WAKE UP and give us active digitizers, styli, in combination with a capacitive touch screen, and high-resolution screens > 150 dpi, so we can replace PAPER!
  • It exists. (Score:5, Informative)

    by jessecurry (820286) <jesse@jessecurry.net> on Sunday April 17, 2011 @12:03PM (#35848220) Homepage Journal
    The standard UIControl set that Apple provides for developers has standard behavior already built in. There are a few gestures that may be optionally enabled, but most are on by default. If a developer goes out of their way to create some custom gesture I don't know that there's much Apple could do to stop them.
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      it's only for apple.
      problem is really this: gestures are something you can't see from the screen, magic information to learn beforehand. that problem was already though with the ipod ui.

  • Srsly? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    My two year old niece figured it out fine, dude. I'll see if I can't get her to explain it all to you.
    • by Belial6 (794905)
      That used to be my standard on whether a person was too stupid to be in a conversation. If my 2 year old son could do it, and it isn't trivial for an adult to accomplish it, (whatever 'it' happens to be), then the adult is too dumb to be taken seriously. This lasted through the age of 3. By the time he reached 4, it was just too much to ask the general population to keep up.
    • Sure, she figured out *one* device. When you've got half a dozen of them around, and all the apps inside them have different input methods, it becomes frustrating and annoying even if you can successfully navigate them.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday April 17, 2011 @12:10PM (#35848278) Homepage Journal

    I'd love American Sign Language to become the universal hand gesture library for interacting with computers. People who are deaf already fluent in ASL would become much more productive than they might be now. Many more people who aren't already communicating with people who are deaf would learn ASL and become fluent in communicating with people who are deaf.

    There's already quite a lot of infrastructure for ASL right now, both in communicating with it and in learning it. There's a whole literature, a whole culture, a whole lingo with consumable artifacts.

    What would be really cool would be software translating between ASL gestures, English and Chinese. Everyone should get into the whole handwaving party.

    • by xMrFishx (1956084)
      Unfortunately sign language has a long way to go before it even reaches universality. Gestures defined by companies and product makers will win in that race to evolve. The reason is this, sign language is not even universal in it's own country. There's a misunderstanding by many (including myself originally) that sign language was merely English with hand waving. Really, it's not.

      Most of us hearing types think it is, because we just don't know any better. My OH is an interpreter so this comes from a
    • by Belial6 (794905)
      The poster below is correct that it wouldn't work for a tablet, but I also agree that sign language is an under utilized resource. Call me a heartless bastard, but I don't think the deaf are the real reason it should be more common. It being useful for the deaf is just a side benefit in respect to the general population. With video based input, it could be a good dictation system. It would actually be superior to even good voice recognition in many environments. Places like cubicles. Libraries, or any
      • by xMrFishx (1956084)
        The OH says it's very useful in noisy environments. It also can be turned into a one handed variant - i.e. drink in other hand, that works quite well for bars.
      • by narcc (412956)

        Call me a heartless bastard, but I don't think the deaf are the real reason it should be more common.

        No way. Check out the documentary "Sound and Fury" and you'll no longer think yourself heartless. (It's "watch instant" on netflix)

        While I agree that a commonly understood sign language would be very convenient in most the situations you describe, I would be horrid for dictation. Well, if other sign languages are anything like ASL.

        ASL reminds me of the primitive speech that you hear from cavemen in cartoons.

        Just as an example, take the phrase "Do you want to go to the movies?". Translated into sign, the

  • by Wolfstar (131012) on Sunday April 17, 2011 @12:15PM (#35848318)

    The one thing I'd like to see changed is autocorrect behavior. Seriously, who thought hitting "space" after an autocorrect word comes up would correct it, but tapping the corrected word would dismiss it? Really?

    I admit, I haven't tried it on an Android device (the nook being my only one), but on iOS it's annoying as hell.

    • It makes sense, but only once you figure it out (aka secret handshake). The combination of keyboard prediction, sensitivity, and poor average keyboarding skills combine to make the prediction more accurate than no prediction. The problem with that supposition is that rather than having a non-word typo which may be a letter or two of (and may even be phonetically correct in the case of mis-spellings), you can get wildly different words. It's also very annoying when working on technical documents for which t

      • by dzfoo (772245)

        >> Actually, I didn't realize until reading your post that you could click on the corrected word to dismiss autocorrect - I though you had to click the X, which often leads to clicking the area to the _right_ of the autocorrect on very small screens (like my phone) which inserts the *insert expletive here* corrected word anyway.

        Wait, you don't have to click the X? Damn! I didn't know that either.

                Thanks!
                -dZ.

    • by Stevecrox (962208)
      Got an Xperia Play and the auto correct is driving me up the wall, I had a Nokia so I'm used to typing things in correctly but auto correct keeps changing words to the most random things. For example I typed "Haha", I could see that I had typed it correctly but auto correct had changed it to "havf".

      On Android it displays a list of possible words above the keyboard, one word will be bolded if you press space the bolded word is used, if you click on any of the words above the keyboard they are used instead
  • ... face palm.

  • It's Right Here (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fnord666 (889225) on Sunday April 17, 2011 @12:18PM (#35848336) Journal
    Well, it's called "iOS Human Interface Guidelines" and it starts right here [apple.com]. Next question.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      On the default Android keyboard space accepts the first suggestion. Above the keyboard is shown what you typed and then suggestions in order of likeliness so if you want what you typed you just touch it, otherwise pick a suggestion or use space. If you long press what you typed it is added to the user dictionary, which is very handy.

      The only thing I would change would be to make access to the cursor keys quicker, although the new selection thingy is much easier to position by finger now anyway.

  • It's very difficult to intuit the right gesture if the screen response is slow. Which one worked? The iPod app always gets me double clicking, triple clicking, and swiping furioulsy at the album cover when a song is playing because I can't tell what's right to get it to flip. I'm sure everyone else in the world "knows" the rightngesture. How did the learn? Does anyone know of a source of "standard" gestures for OS4 apps?
  • by drolli (522659) on Sunday April 17, 2011 @12:41PM (#35848482) Journal

    They have gone down the drain when idiots who are not aware that a "page down" key exists on your keyboard were allowed to make flash controls displaying long texts in the web.

    Honestly i curse always when i am presented with a really nice looking UI in the web which behaves exactly like the programer always believed an interface should behave and forgets to implement half of the expected semantics. Things i hate:

    a) ESC does not finish dialogs

    b) Return does not OK inputs

    c) Tab does not jump between input fields

    d) Links dont do anything

    e) Deactivated options are not marked (of marked in a way you only understand after trial-and-error)

    In that sense, the inconsistency we have with touchscreens only fits in.

    • by mspohr (589790)
      There is no "page down" (or PgUp) key on Apple notebook computers (They may exist on the desktop versions, I don't know). Also no Backspace... which is really no Delete since the Delete key acts like a backspace and doesn't do the normal things a Delete key does (like delete stuff).

      I think the point is that there are no "standards" or that there are lots of standards and everybody makes up their own and doesn't really feel obligated to follow them consistently.

      • by johnlenin1 (140093) * on Sunday April 17, 2011 @07:14PM (#35850968) Homepage
        Page down = Fn + down arrow Page up = Fn + up arrow forward delete = Fn + delete many many more here: http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1343 [apple.com]
        • by mspohr (589790)
          Thank you. I know that there are different key combinations which can emulate the missing keys but they are a pain to use (and remember) so are fairly worthless.

          "The nice thing about standards is that there are so many from which to choose."

          • by drolli (522659)

            I dont care *which keys* generate the page up/page down signal. I can get used to the place to find a key i really need and want (and yes, the page jump keys are among these) quite quickly - i dont switch keyboards every ten seconds, but applications - but if the application does no react to me then i cant do anything about it.

            (Actually as a non-apple user: fn+up and fn+down is straightforward)

    • by lennier (44736)

      and forgets to implement half of the expected semantics.

      I know! Those poor overworked programmers. If only we had some kind of "code reuse" idea that let programmers embed standardised interfaces, let's call them, I don't know, "objects", via some sort of "inheritance" mechanism, into their code. Then we could write an interface once, at the operating system level, get it right, distribute it in some kind of "user interface toolkit", and never have to mess with it again.

      Isn't it a pity that we have no such concept in modern programming? But since we don't, every

      • by s4m7 (519684)

        Then we could write an interface once, at the operating system level, get it right

        That *would* be the first step, wouldn't it?

  • FUD much? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by neoevans (179332)

    Since when did Slashdot start posting FUD from companies looking to tarnish a competitor's product?

    This is exactly the kind of planted review I expect to see in an App Store comment section. 50% from the developers, 50% from the competition.

    Listen, I have 3 kids who all love to use the iPad and not one of them can't figure out how to navigate in and between apps. They are ages 10, 6 and 1.5 respectively. I'd call that intuitive.

    • by fean (212516)

      Overreact much? What 'competitor's product' are you talking about? No app is specified in the question.

      The OP didn't say he couldn't figure it out, or even that it was hard. Just that apps haven't standardized. The only reason Android doesn't get called out is that A) so few people have Xooms, and B) Android apps don't rely on gestures, as they have hardware buttons for 'standard' things like back, menu and search.

      The OP isn't asking for anything absurd, and it sounds like Apple has it covered, even if t

  • What gestures would you like to see made standard in touch-based interfaces?

    Well from a design perspective I'd like the standards to use the ones that are most intuitive for us to learn, most ergonomic so we don't mess up our meatspace bodies, and most quick and efficient so that we can get things done in short order on our fancy new computer devices.

    One of the biggest impediments to standards in this space is patents on both the hardware underlying multi-touch (or whatever user interface comes out next year) as well as all of the software that drives the interface.

    If you want to i

    • by lennier (44736)

      If you want to improve the state of standardization, convince either the companies to stop getting or wielding these patents, or convince your government to eliminate/defang them.

      Government-enforced standardization? What are you, some kind of commie socialist? Let's do it the American way! If I want to drive on the left side of the road and you want to drive on the right, we'll solve the dispute like civilized private gentlemen: with pistols!

  • The universal gesture navigation set is kinetics. It is documented by everyone's natural intuition about the physical world. Touch interfaces work well when they feel like physical interactions, but shoehorning “gestures” into them is completely missing the point. You can't build fluid physical interaction with rigid commands that happen to involve fingers instead of letters. Sure, use gestures under the hood if you have to, but don't force your end user to think about it.

  • by perryizgr8 (1370173) on Sunday April 17, 2011 @03:52PM (#35849810)

    i thought iphone os was supposed to be the perfect example of consistency and intuitiveness? why this complaint now? and if the ui is such a pain in the ass then why don't people buy better spec'ed tablets from samsung instead?

    • by lennier (44736)

      i thought iphone os was supposed to be the perfect example of consistency and intuitiveness?

      It is, valued customer. For the first time in all history, we have created a garden of pure ideology, where the consumer may bloom free from the pests of contradictory and confusing truths. Our enemies shall gesture themselves to death. We will prevail!

      This article has been rated "C" on the Truthiness Scale for "Makes Steve Cry". Please report to your nearest Apple reseller for mandatory ungoodthink memoryholing.

  • by dmesg0 (1342071) on Sunday April 17, 2011 @06:39PM (#35850780)

    Touch the screen in any way you prefer - this should bring the command line and keyboard.

    Everything else should be done in command line like in the real OS. Problem solved.

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