Blog Post

Which Way Is Up!?

Based on my time spent playing with the iPhone interface, I present to you my new term which represents a very serious condition facing geeks today.

Scroligo | skro-li-go |
The vertigo-like sensation induced by switching back and forth between the inverted scrolling orientation on iPhone and the traditional on a MacBook trackpad.

Believe it or not, after limited exposure to the iPhone’s touch interface, and the act of flicking up in order to scroll down, I’ve found myself attempting to two-finger scroll upward on my trackpad in an effort to scroll my browser down the page. The odd part is that it seems so natural on the iPhone, even though it’s historically the non-traditional way of doing things. Apple’s own interface designs suddenly contradict themselves…

Which leads me to wonder if in Leopard – or a future OS update – we’ll gain the ability to invert the direction of our trackpad’s scrolling. Just because it’s always been this way (scroll down for down, and up for up) doesn’t mean it’s necessarily correct (or in-correct). Now that I think of it, I prefer the inverted controls when playing video games (Halo!) as well. I guess I’m just asking for the option to set my scrolling preferences as I like them.

18 Responses to “Which Way Is Up!?”

  1. I have the same problem. I just came here searching for a solution. I prefer the choice made on the iPhone and want to change my mbp to act the same way.

  2. K'laamas

    Neither way is right or wrong, just different. The Inverted Scrolling treats the iPod Touch like physical media. But others (like me) think of it as a “Digital Viewer”, and want to move our finger/thumb in the direction we want our VIEW to move. Is there ANY Setting or Application that can Uninvert the Scrolling on the iPod Touch???

  3. Actually I have a lot of experience with the actual situation. The case in point is that the iPod Touch and iPhone (I have one of each) have DIRECT MANIPULATION because you’re dragging your finger across the screen. The trackpad, however, is indirect manipulation, in that you don’t drag your finger across the screen, you drag it across a pointing device. If you think about it, you’ll see Apple is currently correct. The other way is idiotic.

  4. There is no *right* or *wrong*, and I guess that random8r has no experience with the actual situation.

    It’s not that we’re getting confused about “what each is doing is slightly incorrect”.
    This is about building consistent user habits, which do not require a constant change of our minds.

    If the iPod builds the user habit of direct manipulation (dragging the page, not the control), then it’s a perfectly valid request to ask for the option to have direct manipulation in the MacBook Trackpad as well.


  5. random8r

    This post is really wrong. The reason the iPod touch and iPhone behave the way they do is that you’re actually DIRECTLY touching the screen.

    So, if you were DIRECTLY touching a piece of paper, flicking up WOULD move the page up.

    But, using the MBP double-touch is INDIRECT, so it’st the equivalent of using a scroll-wheel on a mouse.

    The reason you get confused is that your idea of what each is doing is slightly incorrect. You simply need to modify that idea slighly, and you won’t have any problems any more.

    Change it in your mind.

    • I’m so glad the good folks at Cupertino are there to tell me how to think.

      I’m sure with practice i could learn to walk down the stairs backwards too.

      It wouldn’t make it natural though.

      the whole point of an intuitive interface is that it does not need to be explained.

      end of story.

  6. Bryan M.

    Great, you were the first result on google when I searched for an answer moments ago. While tracking about Logic Studio 8, i noticed scrolling around was giving me a giant headache. Same headache that I get when I leave the sun visor down when driving at night (and I don’t realize it). Using the iphone definatly requires an invert on all other touch interfaces. Anyways, good stuff. I’m gonna download this immidiatly.


  7. Actually the UI isn’t inverted. In one instance (the mac laptops), the double-finger movement is to control the direction of the window scroll (akin to scrolling down the page by dragging the position indicator at the side of the page).

    In the other instance, your fingers ARE the pointer, and the idea is you’re literally flicking the page.

    One is made as an extension of an already-existing UI for computer users, the other is made a green-dream UI for non-computer-users.

    It’s like the difference between a design decision made inside a city that has been planned from the ground up, versus a city that has naturally evolved over time.

  8. I found myself doing the exact same thing. I love the way the iPod touch / iPhone scrolling behaves as any physical media would, and it definitely seemed odd moving back to the trackpad and having to force myself to scroll in the opposite direction.

    Great post.

  9. Not having an iPhone made it hard for me to picture what you guys were talking about. But after thinking about it in my head (and literally trying it on my trackpad) I think I agree: You should be allowed to customize it without a third party application.

  10. LARick – Agreed, SideTrack is a fantastic utility. I haven’t used it since upgrading from my PowerBooks to my MacBook, as lots of good functionality is baked in (albeit, not nearly the power of sidetrack). but that’s good to know that it’s a feature now. May have to look back into that…

  11. I’ve had the same sensation.

    You can invert the scroll direction by using SideTrack from I don’t use it for that, but it does many other things great things such as map trackpad corners to keystrokes such as right-click. This is an essential utility for me since my first Powerbook and now on my MacBook Pro.