Hover on Multi-touch Devices

I try to keep this blog focused on software development: design, bug fixes, etc. That's why the following post originally appeared elsewhere.

It appears here, now, because it's loosely connected to software development and because — well, it's interesting (to me). I've been seeing so many references to the idea of proximity-based user interfaces, it seems likely that "hover-free Mobile Safari" will become a historical anomaly.

Original Post (2010/06/23)

Technical Note TN2262: Preparing Your Web Content for iPad:
"For example, a mouse pointer can hover over a webpage element and trigger an event; a finger on a Multi-Touch screen cannot."
This is certainly true for multi-touch devices available now, but I wouldn't be surprised to see, someday, touch-sensitive devices which are also proximity-sensitive. Update 2010/07/08: Others are thinking about implications of hover on multi-touch devices: http://trentwalton.com/2010/07/05/non-hover/ via http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1497108

I'm not a Star Trek fan, but a recent Ars Technica article, exploring the similarities between the iPad and ST:TNG's PADD, caught my eye. It provides several good examples of how science fiction guides technology development. This excerpt seems particularly relevant:

"Still, what new frontiers are out there for interacting with computing devices? Michael Okuda believes that removing the touch requirement will bring new advances in gesture-based control. "Once you don't have to physically touch the screen," he told Ars, "I think yet another window is going to open up.""

Update 2011/01/27

AppleInsider reports on Apple's recent hover-related patent work.