The iPhone's touch screen registers your touch and converts that raw data into precise coordinates.

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iPhone Processor Touch Interpretation

The iPhone's processor and software are central to correctly interpreting input from the touch screen. The capacitive material sends raw touch-location data to the iPhone's processor. The processor uses software located in the iPhone's memory to interpret the raw data as commands and gestures. Here's what happens:

In the nanosecond between the time you touch the iPhone's screen and the display reacts, several calculations and signals are sent from the touch screen to the software.

©2007 HowStuffWorks

1. Signals travel from the touch screen to the processor as electrical impulses.

2. The processor uses software to analyze the data and determine the features of each touch. This includes size, shape and location of the affected area on the screen. If necessary, the processor arranges touches with similar features into groups. If you move your finger, the processor calculates the difference between the starting point and ending point of your touch.

3. The processor uses its gesture-interpretation software to determine which gesture you made. It combines your physical movement with information about which application you were using and what the application was doing when you touched the screen.

4. The processor relays your instructions to the program in use. If necessary, it also sends commands to the iPhone's screen and other hardware. If the raw data doesn't match any applicable gestures or commands, the iPhone disregards it as an extraneous touch.

All these steps happen in a nanosecond -- you see changes in the screen based on your input almost instantly. This process allows you to access and use all of the iPhone's applications with your fingers. We'll look at these programs and the iPhone's other features, as well as how the iPhone's cost measures up to its abilities, in more detail in the next section.