We have been busy the last couple of months with TouchXPRT. We have been investigating and trying out things on Windows 8 Metro. While we are excited by the possibilities for a benchmark in that space, the task is a bit daunting.
The first key question is what are people likely to do with a device using touch-based environment like Metro? The best way to answer that is to look at what people are currently doing with IOS- and Android-based devices. We have been playing with those as well as some units running the Metro beta. To create an initial list of roles or usage categories, we spent some time looking at what is available on the iTunes App Store, the Android Play store, and the Windows Store. Here, in no particular order, is the list of uses we came up with:
- Consume and manipulate media – Touch devices are heavily used for consuming media (music, photos, and video), but now are being used for some simple manipulation tasks like adding simple visual effects to video, mixing and changing audio, and enhancing photos.
- Browse the Web – Touch devices are becoming one of the main ways people consume Web content, both normal Web pages and specially crafted “mobile” pages. Touch devices are what I use to find the phone number for the nearest takeout Chinese.
- Watch video for entertainment – Through movie apps like Netflix and TV network apps, touch devices (especially tablets) are becoming a major force in this area.
- Play games – This is obviously something folks do on their touch devices. As best we can tell, no consumer device can ship without Angry Birds!
- Interact with others – Through apps like Facebook and Foursquare, touch devices are becoming a big way that people interact with each other.
- Get news and information – Another big area is general news and information, including things like stock quotes and weather.
- Use utilities – This is a broad category—there are a ton of utilities for doing everything from moving files to backing up data.
That list covers a lot of ground and some of the areas, like games, would be particularly difficult to benchmark. We thought, however, that it would be best to get everything out and then figure out what to tackle first. The big challenges we face are the lack of apps available for Metro and having no good ability to script or drive applications. Our current thinking is to write some minimal sample apps that mimic common apps out there. These would not be complete apps, but would do some of the key functions. Then, we could build scenarios around these functions. That seems like the best approach to completing something in a timely fashion. Initially, we would aim for two or three of those areas and then add others over time.
As always, we need your feedback. Let us know what you think about the list of uses and the approach in general. And, let us know if you can help with any of the sample app development. Thanks!