AppleInsider seems to have scored an exclusive, having confirmed that forthcoming MacBooks and MacBook Pros will also contain the Air’s new multi-touch trackpad technology.
Wow. Who saw that coming?
But even if Apple adds it to future notebooks, and even if those notebooks are coming soon, I still have a problem. Because my iMac has a acute case of multi-touch envy.
Which leads us to the question of the day:
With gestures becoming more and more important to the Mac interface, when will we get multi-touch on the desktop?
Don’t get me wrong, I like my Wireless Mighty Mouse well enough, you understand, but mice are so… ’80s.
And even scroll wheels and buttons and balls can’t compete with gestures.
Before I got the iMac my main machine was a 17″ MacBook Pro, which had what was then the latest trackpad technology, allowing for two-fingered clicks and scrolling gestures. Brush your fingers up the pad, and the current page went up, brush down, and it went down.
Simple. Natural. Intuitive.
Now Apple is expanding on that vocabulary, borrowing the iPhone’s “pinch” for zooming in and out of images and documents and also adding rotations and three-fingered “next page/previous page” horizontal swipes.
Of course, our programs need to recognize and understand these new commands. Steve demonstrated the pinch and rotate functionality in iPhoto, but rest assured that gesture support is coming to Aperture and Safari and iTunes and Preview and everything else in Apple’s lineup. It’s one of the main benefits of being able to bind your software to your hardware, and vice-versa.
And no doubt third-party application developers will soon follow.
But now we have an imbalance. As more products learn to support gestures, the multi-touch enabled notebooks are going to leave our more “powerful” iMacs and Pros behind in terms of usability. And that won’t do at all.
So we need multi-touch on the desktop. But how will we get there?
Well, one way (as mentioned back in November) would be to offer a USB-based mousepad… without the mouse. Done right, it could even stand in for a graphics tablet for more precise work.
Another way would be to create a new USB keyboard with the trackpad included in a notebook-style arrangement, with the pad in front of the keys. Such a layout would be familiar to MacBook users, and as such would facilitate moving back and forth between desktops and notebooks.
And Apple can probably fit it into the new aluminum keyboard design with no problem. After all, they managed to shoehorn one into the Air.
Now personally, I’m leaning towards the keyboard/trackpad combo, but in actuality I’ll take whichever one I can get.
So Apple, when can I order one? Make an announcement, and you can have my money today.
But make no mistake. They’re coming. Apple’s put a lot of work into multi-touch, and gestures are going to be a core differentiator between OS X and Macs and all of those other machines that have done little more that split the mouse button in half.
And how about you? Are you ready to stop playing with mice?