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8. Swipe! Pinch! Flick! > Awkwardness for Self Defense

Awkwardness for Self Defense

Awkward isn’t always bad. The ease and sensitivity of touchscreen interfaces can also work against you. When it’s too easy to trigger an action, mishaps ensue. Unlocked phones fire off surprise calls from handbags and back pockets. We carelessly delete important data by tapping the wrong item. Call it touchscreen self defense: by requiring awkward or challenging gestures at well-placed points of your interface, you can protect against miserable mistaps.

Apple gives you an example of this technique in the very first screen it shows to new iPhone owners. The “slide to unlock” control greets you when you fire up your new toy for the first time. That sliding action requires just enough concentration and precision to make it unlikely to unlock the phone accidentally from a backpack or purse. Ditto for the “slide to power off” and “slide to answer” controls you get when turning off the phone or receiving a call. All of these slider controls demand extra attention, defending against accidental tapping and helping to ensure it’s actually a person doing the work, not the phone rattling around in your bag.


  

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