The smartphone is an amazing piece of technology that allows us to communicate via voice and text between people and it also opens a portal to the entire world through the Internet. It can also function as a non-communication tool with a vast collection of apps, tools and software gadgets.
It’s these multiple methods of interaction that has allowed new formats like the flipbook to come about (click here to read more about that) and has allowed us to tap, swipe, click and speak our way through our various tools, apps and games.
This is what makes a smartphone smart. The touchscreen is infinitely versatile and allows you to make use of taps, drags, and swipes as you work with your apps. Because any portion of the screen can become a button, apps have been able to creatively adapt their interfaces to be efficient and on-target for their purpose, rather than have to work around a set of physical buttons.
Technically, you’re probably still using the touchscreen when you operate the keyboard functions of your smartphone, but it does still represent a different overall method of interaction for you.
The virtual keyboard will come up automatically when you tap on any field that requires a text entry, like a search box or contact form. Depending on your phone, you also may get a series of suggested terms to help speed up your entries. Spelling may or may not be checked and corrected as you go, too.
If you find yourself doing a lot of “typing” on your phone screen, you can also add a portable folding keyboard to your device collection. They’re not small enough to fit in your pocket, but would be an easy item to carry in a briefcase or purse.
For the busy professional on the go, being able to just talk to your phone to get things done can be a huge time saver. Not only is it quicker to speak than to type, it can be the better option when your hands are busy. It can take a little getting used to, and a little practice saying your words clearly and consistently.
There are a few different apps and tools that will let you use voice commands to control your smartphone. Overall “assistant” type controls would include Siri, Google Voice Access and Cortana, all depending on what kind of phone you have.
This isn’t too common yet, but it also depends on how you use your phone in the first place. With internal GPS functions and even gyroscopic sensors, your phone can use information about your location for various purposes. The most common are navigating maps and getting directions. This isn’t a direct interaction since you’re not actively doing anything with your phone other than existing, but it is still gathering information and using it.
The other aspect of this is that many new games use the movement of the phone as a controller, giving you, even more, flexibility than the touchscreen. The “virtual reality” game of Pokemon Go is one famous example of these seldom-used forms of interaction.