When I saw the iPad commercial on Sunday night, I was excited. So excited, in fact, that I grabbed the Tivo remote and replayed it a few times. I was looking closely for interactions I hadn’t seen before. What I noticed on the second or third viewing was the interaction with the map. Take a look:

Did you see it? It goes by pretty quickly, but in the clip the user is zooming and panning at the same time. I quickly reached for my iPhone to see if the gesture was possible on that device. It was.

So who cares, right? Well, the interesting thing is that I never noticed this capability before and I’m guessing most people haven’t. Why? Because the screen on the iPhone is too small to make the zoom and pan gesture very useful. Your fingers will run out of screen as soon as you spread them. On the iPad, however, your fingers have lot of room. Zoom and pan becomes much more natural.

Let’s compare:


  1. Zoom – spread two fingers apart
  2. Lift fingers
  3. Pan the map using one finger
  4. Repeat


  1. Zoom – spread two fingers apart
  2. Without lifting fingers from screen, pan in any direction

In the case of the iPad it’s not really two separate actions either. I just separated them for clarity. You can see how much more efficient the iPad is at performing the same task, thanks to its larger screen. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. The larger screen will also afford the use of more fingers and, in turn, a richer set of gestures.