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John Hind

Windows Tablet Mode Improvements

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I recently purchased Photo from the Windows Store and frankly there was one big disappointment: it has major useability problems in Tablet Mode (in my case on a Surface Book 1st Generation). Rightly or wrongly we have come to associate Store apps with Tablet Mode, so it comes as a bit of a shock to find one is just an old fashioned desktop app! On the Surface Book there is basically no ergonomic way of using the keyboard/touchpad at the same time as the Surface Pen and losing the latter is a huge bummer for a graphics app!

After getting over the initial disappointment, I did reflect that a couple of relatively minor improvements would make it a lot more usable:

1. UI Scale settings. The app is much more touch friendly if the UI is set to 300% (rather than the recommended 200%). But this is global and wrecks other apps which are scaled properly in the first place. So what is needed is a UI scale setting within the app. On Windows 10, there should be two settings, one for Desktop mode and another for Tablet mode with automatic switching between the two.

2. On-Screen Modifier Icons. The keys that are used as pointer modifiers (shift, alt, ctrl) should have on-screen icons to make up for not having a physical keyboard. These could usefully be ranged at the bottom of the toolbar convenient to the left hand with the pen held in the right.I suggest these work in two ways: either touch and hold them like a virtual keyboard key; or, on machines were touch and pen are distinguishable, it should also be possible to touch the icon with the pen and then the shift state would be toggled until the pen is tapped elsewhere on the screen.

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