Rumor: Apple employee says Tablet UI has “steep learning curve”



While it probably won’t encompass a 3D interface, there’s been enough background murmurings about the method users will employ to interact with Apple’s forthcoming tablet to expect something new. What that “new” is? Only Apple knows… but if our tipster is right, whatever the Tablet’s UI is, it’s going to be different enough from OS X or the iPhone OS to require a significant learning curve.

According to reader Tom: “I just heard [to] be ready for a steep learning curve regarding the “new” Apple product about to be released [and its] interface. This person is an employee of Apple and had just had a meeting regarding some of the new things coming. He/She would not go into details, but did say that he/she hoped we liked learning.”

As a rumor, it’s vague, but it does engorge thought. Time and again, interfaces that require steep learning curves fail when compared to subtle evolutions of intuitively entrenched desktop metaphors. Browser gestures, for example, have never really caught on, since they require a lot of memorization to utilize properly, while multitouch was embraced without confusion by millions of people, due to the natural intuitiveness of touching an object to manipulate it.

Since Apple still does multitouch better than anyone else out there, presumably the Tablet won’t have too outlandish an interface, but talk of a steep learning curve is still eyebrow arching. My biggest worry is that the “learning curve” spoken of here applies to the biggest hole in the touchscreen experience: text entry. The specter of Palm Graffiti still haunts me, although in truth, if Apple chooses to do something new here (and I think they will), they’re more likely to adopt a more graceful and intuitive system like Swype.

All conjecture, certainly… as is any speculation about those interesting quotation marks hugging the word “new” in Tom’s email (we’ve asked him for clarification, since the quotes imply that Apple’s forthcoming product is both more and less different than we’ve been expecting). Still, food for thought. Let us know your thoughts on what Apple might have planned in the comments.


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