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Samsung hints next Galaxy Tabs may use pens, 3D gestures

updated 08:20 am EST, Wed January 25, 2012

Samsung Galaxy Tab may get S Pen too

A conversation with Samsung product marketing manager Ryan Bidan late Tuesday has hinted that the next Galaxy Tab line may make interface a core selling point with a possible return to the early days of tablets. The division lead told Laptop that he expected the S Pen from the Galaxy Note to make its way to tablets. Slates and other devices would also get "3D gestures" using the front camera, face recognition, and voice in certain circumstances.

"I think a pen interface continues to make a lot of sense across a number of screen sizes, like the larger is more obvious of those," Bidan said. "That's about as specific as I can be without announcing a product."

He wouldn't say whether Samsung would follow ASUS' Eee Pad Transformer and Transformer Prime into a keyboard dock, saying only that the company would "explore different input methods."

A shift towards pens would be a risky step for the Galaxy Tab. So far, tablets that have made pens their selling points have fared poorly, although not always due to the input method itself. Windows tablet PCs are the most commonly cited examples and saw eight years of their sales eclipsed by the iPad within nine months as Microsoft's insistence on pen input first, along with high prices, failed to catch on with users. HTC's Flyer and Jetstream tablets use a finger-friendly Android interface, but both cost more than other tablets without otherwise standing out and have struggled next to Apple and current Samsung tablets.

Regardless of external control methods, Bidan did acknowledge that Android has had a problem adapting to tablets. Android 4.0 made the experience "a little bit more consistent" between a phone and a tablet, he said, and helped curb the "UI fatigue" from jumping between the two. Google still had a challenge in trying to balance interface elements, but 4.0 had gone some direction towards solving the interface but admitting that tablet apps weren't phone apps. "Google is working through it," he said.

Like Apple, Samsung wasn't immediately concerned about low-end tablets like the Kindle Fire and saw users moving up when they wanted to do more.

Interface has often been considered one of the core problem of Android tablets. Although it's now more consistent and faster, the desktop-like behavior has been considered more of a liability to some than an advantage. Even during the holidays, Android tablets still left the iPad in a majority as users picked the simpler, faster interface.

by MacNN Staff



  1. lamewing

    Joined: Dec 1969


    All tablets

    All tablets should accept pen input. I am not saying that multitouch should be dropped by any means, but I think pen input should be another option. Apple could sell the stylus (real styli not the 3rd part c*** on sale for use with the iPad - Wacom quality) as an "accessory" so those who don't want it don't need to buy it. I for one, would buy it and so would basically anyone who inputs Japanese Kanji or Chinese characters.

    While many would use it, I don't see Apple spending any of its 100 billion in reserves to provide a feature they don't feel is necessary thanks to Steve Jobs' (RIP) vision. No insult intended to Jobs (did great things), but he was wrong on this point. Entering a 13 stroke kanji just isn't easy with a finger....and the fact that iOS doesn't have input for Japanese kanji (you have to use the Chinese input - grrrr).

    If Samsung added this feature (with handwriting recognition as good as Microsofts') I might have to get one of their tablets...Apple...PLEASE don't let that happen!!!

  1. ElectroTech

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Clueless Innovation?

    Just because Microsoft did it doesn't mean that it is useful. 3D gestures are tiring and far too large of movements involved. For 3D gestures to work, you would need a resting place for your hand and a solid place to have the tablet. We humans are not that good at controlling our hands in 3D space with precision and therefore need gross gestures.

  1. Arne_Saknussemm

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The Newton's failure...

    made Steve Jobs abandon pen input,
    the man was brilliant, but human non the less.
    My newton still works great - and has replaceable batteries too.

    No matter what SJ said, humans doodle, draw, and write, with a stylus practically since birth for all of history.

    As technology moves forward,
    the pen,
    will be ubiquitous as just one more way of creating data.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    the pen...

    has by far many plusses (far more than the one or two detractions it has). It is far more precise than a person's finger (I'm sorry, but trying to scrub through a video in the iOS is a pain in the a**, for it never stays where I want it, because, apparently, my finger doesn't leave the screen in the precise way they expect it).

    People find using a pen far easier for input of certain types of data than their finger. If you go to an apple store, they want you to sign for your credit card purchase. How? With your finger? Seriously, who writes or signs with their finger? At that point, if they even cared to compare the signature to the card, it would fail since there's no way it would even be close.

    The biggest 'con' is "oh, the pen could get lost". Which is the worst excuse ever (OK, it gets lost, get a new one, or then you can use your blasted finger!).

    The second is "but Steve didn't put it on there, so that means it is bad". Because, as we all know, if Steve said something, it should be taken as the word of God and should never be contradicted. (even though he contradicted himself all the time).

  1. Arne_Saknussemm

    Joined: Dec 1969


    @ hayesk: Right - On a full sized keyboard!

    Humans can write a lot faster on a keyboard, on a proper desk posture even better, and if you dump the 100 year old QUERTY kludge for a dvorak layout faster still.

    Nevertheless for quickly jotting down stuff, like what most people do, be it on the metro, the buss, the airplane, the car, h3ll even during an reporter's interview the pen is unbeatable.

    Besides you can use a stylus and graffiti input without actually looking at the writing surface; try that with ANY software keyboard.

    And let's not start talking about graphics input, or editing...

    Just check the Kickstarter site for all the very succesful pen input devices being funded every month.

    Pen is not for everything, neither is the keyboard or voice, but until we get thought reading or whatever on mobile devices and artists desktops the pen is unavoidable.

  1. Arne_Saknussemm

    Joined: Dec 1969


    If everithing else...

    The readers and posters here make up a very slim slice of the world's population. In a couple generations most children now learning to read on the worlds developing populations will be the force moving Earth forward.

    The lucky ones are now learning to write, with chalk on a wall mounted mineral slate, or with a piece of charcoal covered with wood on vegetable fibers. Even as we speak the stylus is still being taught as the FIRST input device.

    Wonder what will THEY choose to write as the next world leaders? a set of several tens of buttons in an arrangement made precisely to slow down input (QUERTY...) or just what they are learning now?

    Just read Lamewing's post to see how he feels at having to use Chinese characters in lieu of Japaneses...

    An mind you there are quite a bit more users of non-Latin based languages out there. In order to be usefu lnext gen computing devices will have to adapt, not just to current "first world", but to whatever succeeds us.

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