Finger vs. Stylus vs. Thumboard (Part 1)


This series is an attempt to discuss the advantages and disadvantages to the 3 major mobile device input methods. Apple is purporting that the one-finger interface is better than the traditional stylus interface and the more popular hardware thumboard interface. So let’s see how it goes…

Finger-oriented interface…


– You don’t have to pull out a stylus

– The device can be smaller and have a larger screen since it doesn’t need room for hardware buttons

– On-screen keyboard will only appear when needed

– Larger buttons means a simplified interface

– Can be used with one hand


– You can’t feel any buttons since they’re software based and flush with the screen

– You have to look at the screen to navigate the device (Not safe to be used while driving, running, bicycling, etc.)

– Buttons need to be larger and will take up more screen real-estate meaning there will either have to be more sub-pages for other commands, or less available commands/features overall

– Cannot develop motor-memory since there’s no tactile feedback

– Screen will likely be very washed-out and difficult to see when outdoors. Since the interface depends on the screen being visible, this will make the device much more difficult to use

– Fingers have pores that release oils onto the skin, and this will cause smudges on the screen which will impair the visibility of the user interface

Share This Post
What's your reaction?
Love It
Like It
Want It
Had It
Hated It
About The Author
Adam Z. Lein
Adam has had interests in combining technology with art since his first use of a Koala pad on an Apple computer. He currently has a day job as a graphic designer, photographer, systems administrator and web developer at a small design firm in Westchester, NY. His love of technology extends to software development companies who have often implemented his ideas for usability and feature enhancements. Mobile computing has become a necessity for Adam since his first Uniden UniPro PC100 in 1998. He has been reviewing and writing about smartphones for since they first appeared on the market in 2002. Read more about Adam Lein!