MacBook DS?  Using Apple iPhone as input device for multi-touch Mac OS X development (with video)

“MultiTouch.framework is a native Cocoa multi-touch framework for Mac OS X. It uses the default event handling system and the responder chain of the operating system, providing a familiar application programming interface to Mac OS X developers. It is built upon a modular low-level architecture that unifies all touch events, with input units for different multi-touch input devices including FTIR, DI, iPhone/iPod touch, as well as any TUIO-based devices. Thus, as a developer, you do not need to care about the actual input device being used,” The Media Computing Group explains.

“One of the great advantages of this toolkit is that you can develop and test your multi-touch application on your standard desktop Mac, using your iPhone as multi-touch input device, without having to work at an FTIR table all the time,” The Media Computing Group explains.

The Media Computing Group are currently working on the first public release and plan to provide an early version of the framework soon.

More info here.

Cocoa Multi-Touch Framework for Mac OS X in action:

Direct link via YouTube here.

MacDailyNews Take: Take a MacBook and replace the trackpad with an “iPhone”… Or, perhaps, take a MacBook, maybe even make it a bit smaller (10 or 12”?), and replace the bottom half (both the keyboard* and trackpad) with a larger “iPhone”… Voilà! Say “hello” to the MacBook DS, er… MacBook touch.

*No sense lugging that keyboard around all the time, just have it only when you want it as with iPhone; maybe even featuring haptics, too.

“We are working to develop new products that contain technologies that our competition will not be able to match.” – Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer, July 21, 2008


  1. I am not sure I understand why an iphone like multi-touch area would be better than a plain old keyboard and trackpad with multi-touch features. It seems like as a user we would constantly be switching between looking at the screen and the multi-touch area. How is this better than ignoring completely the lower part because we know where everything is and focusing solely on the display?

  2. The big new idea is what happens when you have a keyboard that is completely user-configurable? You’ll be able to download specialized keyboards for different tasks – an IM keyboard, a Photoshop keyboard, a keyboard for bloggers, a keyboard for website developers, etc., and toggle between them. There will be animated keyboards, like the iPhone’s, that anticipate the user. There will be alternative keyboard designs we’ can’t even imagine yet.

    Or, clear away the entire keyboard to work with multitouch on a giant trackpad. Sketch on it.

    This would be a stunning and revolutionary development.

  3. The touch keyboard on the iPhone is a tradeoff that allows more screen real estate and a small overall size of the device. Device and screen size are two of the driving forces in cell phone design. This is simply not the case for full sized laptops. Will anyone argue that a physical keyboard is not as responsive as a virtual one? I doubt it. Then why, if you have the real estate, would you choose a virtual keyboard over a physical one in this form factor? If you are going SFF or tablet, then yes, I could see a touch keyboard possibility. But for a clamshell laptop? There’s no way they would replace the keyboard.

  4. The First steps in moving to Star Trek Next Generation Enterprise console configurations for the function and person using it.
    Of course is Apple going to be the first to pull off a 100% user/function configurable multi touch surface for computer input.
    I’d say they are and when they do it’s going to slowly replace how people interact with computers and how computers are used. The old hardcore keyboard users, touch typing types will have a hard transition to a none mechanical keyboard current keyboard. Like the iPhone/iPod touch keyboards you’ll have your old school die hard physical keyboard camp but as time goes by that number will shrink just as it is with iPhone Plastic chicklet key lovers.

  5. I hate to be the voice of reason here, but Apple is never going to get rid of the physical keyboard. The MacBook touch will have a 12″ screen which is fully multi-touch capable with a regular physical keyboard as the lower half. Of course, you’ll be able to twist or flip the screen so that it lies flat against the keyboard for times when you only want to interact with the touch screen.

    The iPhone / iPod touch work without a keyboard for two reasons. First, there is not enough space for the form factor. This is not an issue with the form factor of a laptop. Second, the iPhone is not meant to be a data entry device. Sure, you can send a few quick IMs or enter a URL into the browser, but you’re not going to write a book with it. However, a laptop is meant for text entry. The idea of even writing this comment on the iPhone or on a virtual keyboard on a slick piece of glass is silly.

    Note: I just saw ChrisM’s response and totally agree.

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