As you’ve probably seen from the Youtube videos, the iPad/iPhone direct interaction is as close to natural interface as one gets. The absense of a pointing device removes an extra step from between the user and the interface, and multitouch naturally adds to this in a very exciting way. In this article I’ll go through a few pointers about our tablet concept, and of course how and why we arrived into our design decisions.
Form equals function
Conceptually iPad has two orientations—vertical and horizontal. We came to the conclusion that in a context of TV use the form should be respected to some extent: the portrait form is perfect for browsing and reading content, whereas the landscape facilitates more old fashioned, TV use. One major factor supporting this is the broadcast industry heritage especially with aspect ratios of TV content. This is actually quite significant because SuomiTV has 100% HD production pipeline, and hence all the content is very high quality 16:9.
From the start one of the main ideas for this concept was to have as little interface as possible and let people interact directly with the content itself. With iPad this comes quite naturally, and we felt we should take the whole notion of a seamless interface one step futher.
Despite being a young platform, thanks to other, earlier iProducts, the iPad comes with clear interaction language already familiar to users. There are three kind of controls in this concept; direct, gestural and physical interaction. The primary way of interaction is tapping the screen and receiving an immediate response. In addition to this, there are simple physical gestures such as swipe. In fact, these two(!) things are all you need to learn in order to use an iPad. And since we’re talking about direct manipulation, the learning curve is almost nonexistent.
Not just one, but two
What we did is build a gestural system on top of this. Single finger tap + swipes are reserved for navigation and straightforward tasks. Placing two fingers on the screen means either more prominent tasks such as swapping playlists and saving videos locally for later use. In our initial concept we also toyed around familiar gestures such as pinch, but ended up leaving it out from the final concept for later development. Instead, the landscape use gives you access to joystick-like contextual video controls, which enable an enjoyable flow without having to concentrate pointing accurately on a timeline.
The third way to interact with the content is physical interaction with the device itself. We believe that by physical interaction with digital content makes it more real and tangible. There’s some great potential here, and we included in the concept playful little things such as shaking the device to shuffle a playlist, and tapping the side of the device to fast forward / scrub a video.
Selected screens (click for larger)
The concept is a result of compact three weeks of intensive work. We produced quite a bit of ideas and material of which about 25% made it to the final concept. Naturally our intention is to share as much as we can, so look out for more posts delving into related material.
Remember to check out the other parts as well;