Samsung’s Air View is a gesture based feature introduced on the Galaxy S4. It uses sensors to allow previews, magnification, etc. just by hovering your finger over the screen. Unfortunately, it’s only available on the Galaxy S4 (and Note II with use of the S Pen), and only works with built in Samsung apps. At first I added it to a very long mental list of gimmicky features I will never use. Is hovering your finger above the device really more convenient than touching it?
Then I thought about it. Air View, if properly implemented system wide in Android, could be the next evolution in the mobile OS becoming more like a full PC. For instance, jQuery navigation bars often don’t require a full click to open a drop down menu. Instead, it appears when you hover over it with your cursor. This has been a long running problem on Android. Tapping on a navigation bar section will take you to the page it links to, instead of showing the drop down menu. There are many other web based features that are activated by hovering your mouse cursor over the particular page element. Air View would allow a mobile user to access the webpage exactly like they were on a desktop with a finger hover being just like a cursor hover.
Today’s smartphone screens are extraordinarily accurate. However human fingers are often much bigger than what we’re trying to select on our screens. Proper implementation of Air View could virtually eliminate mis-taps (throughout the system and all apps, not just browsing) by highlighting whatever your finger is over. There would be no question to the user what would be selected when they put their finger down. Webpage links, homescreen apps, text message threads, and virtually all buttons could be configured to work with this. Samsung has taken it a step further than just highlighting, and actually showing a preview of whatever text message, email, etc. But again, this is only in Samsung’s preloaded apps, and only on 2 of their devices.
Air View has the potential to be one of the biggest advances in mobile technology that will hopefully shrink the ever closing gap between smartphones and PC’s. I can only cross my fingers that it won’t stay Samsung app/device exclusive, or even worse, it gets swept under the rug with other discarded gesture features.