Touch-to-Desktop Straight Porting Doesn’t Work

Daniel Kennett:

At first glance, porting a touch UI to a “traditional” computer may seem compelling — I mean, the mouse pointer is more accurate than a finger and big buttons aren’t a bad thing, right?

No, they’re not.

However, desktop operating system aren’t touch-based. There’s a hundred reasons not to do a straight port like this, and I’ve only touched one of them here. The extra limitations imposed by Fitts’s Law on “traditional” computers mean that touch UIs typically simply don’t work in mouse-driven environments.

Kennett picked on Reeder for Mac Beta, one of the best-looking RSS readers for the Mac. I was very excited when I first heard about Reeder for Mac Beta. I’ve been using Reeder on my iPhone for quite some time now. The UI is simple and elegant. And because of that Reeder gets me through RSS feeds quickly. A simple right flick is all that’s needed to mark an item read. Reeder is fantastic and an example of UI perfection on the iPhone.

Unfortunately Reeder for Mac Beta is just too greedy with my pixels. I have a dual-window setup with the source material on the left and the blogging system on the right. Reeder for Mac Beta wants the entire screen. I can almost forgive it for wanting all of my display real estate since it is so easy on the eyes, but I won’t.

I use Google Reader for its efficiency. When I click on a link a new tab opens up and loads the entire webpage. I then type Command+L to highlight the URL and paste it as the source link into my posts, in the window on the right. Google Reader isn’t pretty, but it’s pretty and efficient. Going in and out of Reeder and Safari gets tiring. And it slows me down. I chose efficiency over beauty: Reeder has been uninstalled.

Reeder for Mac Beta needs to be simpler, like the Reeder iPhone app, which is supremely optimized for a small 3.5-inch touch display. Reeder for Mac Beta requires too many pixels and hopefully that’ll change when the final version comes out.