January 8, 2011

Sliding backwards

There has been a lot of chatter in the past few days as apps from iOS have made their way onto Mac os x with the debut of the app store. A lot has been said about the iOS-ification of the Mac and how it's leading to the downfall of civilization as we know it. Honestly, I don't have a problem with it. Well-designed apps are well-designed apps, and those that aren't, well, aren't. If it's well-designed I'll use it.

One thing that has struck me is something very subtle, something that has nothing at all to do with the appearance or the animations: scrolling. All my macs have trackpads, magic or otherwise, so I don't often use a mouse or a scroll wheel. Everything is accomplished with a flick or a swipe or two or three fingers sliding across a smooth surface.

On the Mac, sliding down with two fingers scrolls down. We are all used to this (even my mother, I think). However, on iOS, sliding down with a finger scrolls *up* -- the opposite direction. We are all used to this as well. It's natural on an iOS device, because it's direct-manipulation. To do anything else would feel wrong.

So why am I bothering to bring this up at all? As more Mac apps (Reeder, Twitter, etc) begin to look stunningly like their iOS counterparts (iOS scrollbars and all), something feels wrong as you use them for a while. That something is scrolling. If it looks like iOS, my brain expects direct manipulation scrolling (since my finger is simply gliding over glass, it can't really tell the difference). However, on the Mac, that's not at all what you get. The result is this weird feeling that the world is backwards, as if the laws of physics are somehow jumbled.

I don't know what can be done about this really, I just wanted to point it out.

Posted by pinkerton at January 8, 2011 1:22 PM | TrackBack