I don't even like pinch to zoom. It is hard/impossible to do when using the phone one handed. It is also annoying in apps like google's new maps for iOS because it is hard to not also rotate the map, which is hardly ever the desired outcome.
I think so. There is a myth about a Donald Duck comic being used as prior art when denying a patent application. It could be true since the patent was indeed denied, but sadly the records of why has been lost.
When I first saw pinch-to-zoom I thought it was really cool, but in the long run it is one of those things that works better in "delightful" demos than in the real world.
In the real world I much prefer double-tab and two-finger tap to zoom in and out. You don't get quite the same level of "accuracy" as you do with pinch, but precise zoom is largely useless on phone/tablets anyway.
The strength of pinch-to-zoom as a UI interaction is that it is direct manipulation. It has less to do with accuracy. Two-finger tap is a "computer command" to do something. Pinch is you doing the thing you want to do.
That's a good heuristic but it doesn't trump the fact that it is physically much more difficult than double-tap or tapping zoom in/out buttons when holding a device and controlling it with the same hand which is what you want 95% of the time. Pinch zoom is definitely less usable overall.
For example, when driving nails, in theory it would be great if you could just push them into the wood but in real life a hammer turns out to be handier.
BTW, not sure about ios but in android you can turn the +/- zoom buttons back on in labs.
After finally using Google's new maps for IOS last night (to actually find a destination I was trying to get to, as opposed to just playing around with the app), I'm really liking the ability to control zoom with a double-tap-drag. Its especially nice being able to quickly zoom out then back in with just one gesture, so you can figure out where you are within the larger map.
I'm with you on the one handed use, but I think pinch to zoom is awesome. It's very natural and its implementation feels "direct", not laggy. It seems simple now, but it's one of those "why is it that nobody actually did it right?" until Apple did it. Just shows you that the devil is in the details and the balance, not the grand concept of pinching to zoom.
I've owned lots of Palm-based PDAs and a Dell Axim with Windows Mobile, for my pre-iPhone touchscreen background. I was horrified at the prospect of owning a Palm Treo or anything with Windows Mobile at the time.