iPhone’s success has sent all the handset manufacturer’s scurrying to come up with a touch screen device of their own. We have seen touch screen devices being launched by all major players, even RIM which is mostly in the enterprise segment has come up with one. This makes good short-term commercial sense, but I wonder if it points to a trend that’ll overshadow the keypad.
Touch screen definitely has it’s advantages, you save space for the keyboard (which takes up a large percentage of the device area), you can change the complete interface for each app and provide the necessary keys and buttons only, you can save weight and due to no keyboard there are no mechanical wear parts.
That said, let’s look at iPhone’s keypad for a second, it’s not really what we were hoping for. It is so harder and longer to develop a response from the iPhone.. you keep wanting “k” but it gives “i” or some key closer to the letter and this goes for any letter. Doing the same thing on the Blackberry, however, is a breeze.
As Dr Buxton puts it: “Everything is best for something, and worst for something else.” Touch screens are best suited to manipulating information, rather than inputting it in the first place—an area in which keypads remain unchallenged. Mobiles with keypads and touch screens could offer the most flexibility, letting users choose the appropriate input method for each task. Google designers have done a great job in this regard, the G1 is strictly touch screen and has a built in keyboard that slides out.
I think touch screens are here to stay, but it’ll be a while before they overshadow the keypads.