I’m currently adapting a user interface to be used on a ruggedized tablet running Windows 7. You have to understand, this is for a military customer, and they have their reasons, short-sighted though they may be. At any rate, the tablet edition of Windows 7 is not particularly well suited to touch. Here’s the process I have to go through every time the tablet goes to sleep and locks me out.
Just like on the desktop, I’m required to press Control + Alt + Delete to sign back in. I’ve never understood why that’s necessary to begin with, but this is on a tablet—there’s no keyboard. The OS seems to realize that, because the message on the screen says, ”Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete or use the Windows security button to log on.” I didn’t know what that meant the first time, but eventually found a tiny little button labeled with an iconic key on the side of the tablet. Pressing that brought up a screen with the password field and the onscreen keyboard.
Using the keyboard is very frustrating. It gives absolutely no feedback when you tap a key. The key doesn’t depress or highlight or make a sound. The only way you can tell whether or not your tap registered is to look up at the password field to see if a bullet appeared. Of course, there is no way to tell whether or not you hit the correct key. Being used to the behavior of the soft keyboard on my iPhone, it’s rather off-putting. I’ve started using the stylus, because I’ve found I make less mistakes.
The tablet does support multi-touch interaction, but it isn’t very good. A webpage may be scrolled vertically with one finger or two fingers, but only a two-finger swipe will scroll horizontally. With a one-finger scroll, you get momentum-scrolling, but not so with two-finger scrolling—the page stops moving as soon as your fingers break contact with the screen.
And, of course, there’s the issue of the cursor. It’s invisible, but it is there, and moves to your finger’s contact point. This means that tooltips and hover effects will be enacted after you have touched an object.
It’s frustrating to work with, but it renews my appreciation for Apple’s accomplishments with the original iPhone.