Intel: We Have The Recipe To Beat iPad

In a private Computex session with Gizmodo, Intel's Francois Piednoel says he's cracked the code on what makes the iOS experience better than the competition, and he's spent the past few weeks teaching Taiwanese manufacturers the 'recipe' for success in their next generations of devices. And using last year's Atom processors we touched a user experience that suggests he really has cracked the code.

Intel's Senior Performance Analyst, Francois Piednoel, says its time to talk about the pure maths of user experience. Intel has been building models that closely match how a user is going to react to the responsiveness and smoothness of touch interface gestures. Through their testing to date they feel it's time for the rest of the industry to admit what Apple has been doing right, and by doing so see where they can catch up and go beyond.

"Apple are the only ones who figured out these things so far. But now we're number two in figuring out how to do these and we are now training Taiwan in how to do that."

One of the key elements in the recipe is to always yield to the user. As an example, if you keep a finger on the screen of an iPad or iPhone and try to force a notification - like send a message to the phone via Skype - the device will wait until your finger leaves the screen before it interrupts you. If the user is interacting, other processes are put on hold to ensure you can do whatever it is you expect to be able to do. Nothing else gets in your way.

Beyond high level concepts like that, Intel has specifically been training manufacturers on is the ability to shortcut OS bottlenecks for benefits in UI and power consumption. As one example, a click gesture on Windows 7 requires 50 million instructions to be performed. Under Intel's shortcut methodology they can cut that down to 15,000. With 3000x savings on basic interactions the software starts to get out of the way of delivering smooth, responsive UI.

"People are only really happy when the device is running 60 frames per second," says Piednoel. "Before the iPad people would probably tell you that 30 frames were good enough. But now when they've touched an iPad they require 60."

We had a hands-on demo of an optimised Atom tablet from last year, and even running on top of Windows this thing was delivering a 60fps silky smooth gesture interface. This included deep exploration of a calendar view of a photo and video archive, with videos beginning to play as you zoomed into their range. We saw simultaneous playback of three videos, alongside multiple live browser windows, and all pinch, zoom, and scroll touch experiences felt as slick as the best in the business.

And all on last year's Atom that most people have considered dead in the water.

Of course, new Atoms are on the way. But the fundamental talk here is about putting UX above all else, but doing it in a way that is based on the fundamental maths of what performance measures are actually making a difference.

Experiencing an old Atom hands on delivering the kind of gesture smoothness I've come to expect from an iPad, it may just be that the recipe that Intel is now sharing with Taiwanese manufacturers will see us finally get that intangible "feels good" in many other touchscreen systems.



    Intel are essentially in bed with Apple these days anyway, so why the competitive tone?

    Ideally I want a tablet that I can build myself out of the components that I want, running the OS of choice. What are my chances of that? practically none.

      Intel isn't in the iPad. They see they're behind the game in the smartphone / tablet market and they're focused on getting Atom into that game more seriously.

    "As one example, a click gesture on Windows 7 requires 50 million instructions to be performed."

    So how can we get these optimisations on older hardware?

    "Oak Trail Atom’s"

    Sorry, but it just really irks me when people do that.

      I feel so, so dirty. I blame... jetlag, bad Wi-Fi, and... well, myself.

    I cant understand how the Ipad sells so many units when its so horrible to use.

      Clearly you don't own one. There is nothing better than sitting on a 12 hour flight and being able to watch movies for basically the entire flight. Any other tablet and you can only watch one, maybe two movies and then.... kaput.

      Its called Advertising. Theyre the only ones doing it, and doing it well to portray their devices as fun and easy to use which translates into sales. Pity that the Samsung Galaxy S phone last year had a really pathetic and short lived advertising campaign, the Galaxy Tab never had one, and if the Xoom or new Galaxy Tab range arent advertised, theyre not going to sell much. I see Apple ads almost each time I turn on the TV or visit popular websites. With advertising revenue like that, its no wonder why some people cant seem to believe that there are other products on the market besides the ones that Apple makes.

        Really Ash? All just advertising hey? Sounds to me like you have a case of one-sided user.

        Having used (and owned) both the user experience on the Tab pales in comparison. I'm not talking about geek features (eg rooting the device, flash etc), just pure ease of use. I'm not alone either.

        You can call it due to advertising all you want but the fact is people aren't as stupid as you think. If it really was crap people would buy something else. Everyone recalls the successes and not the failures, but apple spent alot of money on advertising a product that failed spectacularly :The newton. How do you explain that?

      Its called Apps, we have them.

    The recipe to beat an iPad ? When will they learn that its not hard to deliver a technically superior device than the ipad... the main drive behind the ipad is the marketing power, not tech specs, usabilty or any of that jargon.. not even price! People will gobble up anything with an apple these days... they obviously have realised that they are comfortable spending x amount of money on a device an are happy with what they pay for. And you know... if you dont have an apple product these days 'you dont fit in' . Unless your a tech spec nerds... who obviously need to compromise.

      you sound like one of the tech nerds you describe- only comprehending technology in terms of specs and applying no value to ease of use or intuitivity of the interface. Ironically missing the point of the article and why this intel guy is finding his discovery such a revelation.

    This guy seems so out of touch. Hardware isn't the reason IOS is 'superior.' You can't just throw numbers around like '3000x savings on basic interactions' and expect people to understand what you're saying.. Or care.

    People choose IOS because it's a safe, polished ecosystem that hand-holds their users through that closed garden. For everyone else, they'll just prefer the versatility of the Android offerings, which are usually powered by Qualcomm. Sorry Intel.

    Apple has patented pure maths. Watch out Intel!

    If anyone knew apple's secrets to success they would keep it to them selves and make a big margin. All these things mentioned above are unsuccessfully used by other companies.

    @villainsoft - you can buy your own dev kits, touch panels, electronics etc. good luck programming, making it cheap, reliable, attractive, legal, supported etc...

    @TSH - you click, gets x\y sends to system, system works out layer order, left\right click, sender, object clicked on... takes a dump, then program receives signal to do something.

    @lulz - these 'optimisations' are tripe.

    @Ash - you really think apple invented advertising? you think advertising is as simple as putting many ads on tv\internet? That's probably why penis enlargement and phone dating industries make so much money.. or not. MS spends more on advertising than apple (i.e.

    @ketchum - symbian probably has the most apps but ardoid will take over.

    @Steve - iOS safe? you aware of recent tracking issues? recently hacked encryptions by the russians?

    Apple somehow convinces people they need their piece of shit over everyone else's piece of shit, and at a premium! Nokia used to be able to do this.

      Uh Brendan, how could "All these things mentioned above are unsuccessfully used by other companies" when these "other companies" didn't even have the things that were discovered to use in the first place?

      They didn't have 60FPS, and they didn't have ways to work around the 200ms wait for the click. Until it was discovered.

      Please read a bit more carefully.

    what took intel so long to realize that software is much more important than hardware these days? end user experience = software, not the best processor in planet whatsoever!

    yeah, you got that right Intel, time to put more money on softwares now fellas...

    This story got me curious so I met with Framcios inside his lab after he returned from Computex. Here's a little more in video and photos

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