I recently discovered Google’s Gesture Search app and I have used it quite a bit for the past week. My experiences so far have been positive.
The app provides a canvas where you draw alpha-numeric characters. Drawing a character or a “gesture” initiates search that scans your apps, music, bookmarks and contacts. This process can be very efficient, especially when searching for contacts. Drawing 2 or 3 characters results in a contact’s name quickly appearing on the screen.
The speed at which one draws these gestures takes some time to master, but it quickly becomes easy and fun. At first, when one starts using gestures, a definite coolness factor sets in. Once the novelty wears off, though, one becomes a bit more critical of how useful this input method really is.
Familiar gestures for touch screens such as tapping, swiping, and pinching are great because they’re very simple and intuitive. On the surface, extending gestures to include alpha-numeric characters is a clever design decision because it provides users with a larger and familiar gesture vocabulary for input.
However, not all characters or gestures are created equal. Drawing the letter “E” or the number “8” takes more effort than, say, drawing the letter “r.” Also, there’s a trade-off between speed and correctness: the faster one enters these gestures, the more likely it is that errors will be made. made. That’s my take on it.
Gesture search maybe a very desirable feature for a more general audience. I’m currently running a web survey that tries to understand what people think about gesture search. In a subsequent post, I’ll discuss my findings.