The other day, I was reading a magazine on my bus ride home when something peculiar happened: as I reached the end of the page, I instinctively brought my finger to the paper and attempted to swipe up the text. Merely five years of using touch-based devices transformed the understanding of a page enough that, even if for just a moment, I thought that I could scroll the text in a magazine. This is not the first time that this has happened, either. How many times have you found yourself tapping a screen, only to be surprised that it is one of those old types of screens?
Forces of Change
New technologies are powerful forces of change in our lives, but the major developments that we see today are particularly transformative because they directly affect consumer products on a massive scale. Their increasing ubiquity slowly transforms even our most subtle expectations and interactions with our world, and they do so in a way that other technological advancements could not.
Although numerous, there are probably several overlapping forces worth noting for their impact on the products that we create:
- Touch User Interfaces. To say that touch interfaces have revolutionised human-computer interaction is an understatement. While many users of intensive graphics software say that new interfaces are not fully capable of meeting their needs, I would argue that we are still in a transitional state, and have yet to see the full development of touch-based interfaces. At any rate, they continue to make us re-think interaction paradigms from the ground up, and afford us multiple opportunities for the next generation of graphics software.
- Internet-Enabled Mobile Devices. It is stunning to consider the worldwide growth of internet-enabled mobile devices. The effects of these devices are almost too numerous to identify, from changing the nature of our social interactions, to altering our engagement with the space around us, to blurring our sense of work and personal time. They also introduce different form factors for interactive experiences.
- Social Media. Our users constantly engage each other and their social circles through a wide variety of social networks. People share digital assets, discuss techniques and creative methods, broadcast their latest creations, seek critiques from their creative and business peers, and connect with new business, much of which would have been considerably more difficult a decade ago.
- Cloud Computing. Though still a new concept for many people, cloud computing holds the promise of stringing everything together in a seamless experience, something particularly important in multi-device mobile world. Where user experiences used to be contained within a device, as it were, we can start to see now that devices will be more like small parts of a larger, continuous experience, all held together by the cloud.
Adapting with You
It is essential for us to consider the impact of these changes as they affect how our users conduct their business and pursue their creative passions. We at Corel are working hard to adapt both existing and new products and, while there are many exciting things to come, you can already access some of our latest offerings:
- Designs for Windows 8. Corel first introduced a preview version of Designs to the Windows Store this summer, and we are looking forward to releasing an update at the same time as the release of Windows 8. Designs lets you discover, search, view, collect, and share from a wide variety of digital art and graphic libraries, including award-winning content from CorelDRAW and Corel Painter communities, and content from popular providers like iStockPhoto, fotolia, and flickr. Designs can be used with both touch- and mouse-based interaction, and will also be available to tablets with Windows RT.
- Corel Cinco for iPad. If you use Corel Painter, you have to try Corel Cinco for iPad. It is what we refer to as a companion application, used directly in tandem with Corel Painter 12. Corel Cinco integrates into your existing workflows by providing you a touch user interface with which to use your pre-existing tools and palettes with just a tap of a finger. Fully customisable, it will even automatically calibrate the interface to the size of your hand and fingers.
In addition to considering how these changes affect the way our users engage our products, it is also essential to consider how they affect what our users are creating with these products. This is especially true for graphics software.
Beyond traditional forms of graphics, users are often making new forms of media with existing tools, including interfaces for smartphone applications, responsive web sites, digital signage, and information graphics. We also see our users managing their business operations across multiple channels, including web sites and social media, while still maintaining traditional forms of marketing.
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, we live in exciting times and will continue to see much change as various technologies mature and interaction paradigms change. What changes have you seen in your business and creative endeavours? How do you find yourself interacting with these technologies during your production process? Do you find these changes exciting, or would you prefer to keep things the way that they were?