The case for a Multi-Touch Mac

“Last weekend, I spent some time with a couple of friends who both have Windows laptops and I found myself experiencing a hitherto unfamiliar feeling while watching them use their computers: envy,” Dan Moren writes for Macworld.

“Look, I know. I know that touchscreen notebooks are supposed to be toaster-fridges, hybrids that aren’t as good as either a full-blown touch-based device like the iPad or a traditional laptop,” Moren writes. “But as I watched them swiping away at the screen, I couldn’t help but think that perhaps there’s a missed opportunity for Apple here. ”

“To me the biggest reason for Apple to continue investigating touch-based interfaces on the Mac is simple: touch is the future,” Moren writes. “Apple has been second to none in its promotion and implementation of those technologies on mobile—but on the Mac, it’s been far more hesitant. The company’s remained pretty adamant that it has no plans to build a touchscreen into its Mac laptops or desktops.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple should get to work on that – right after they make a $500 netbook.

As we wrote earlier this month, Apple brass seem to have convinced themselves that the iPad is the PC/Mac replacement for 95% of personal computer users today and, by Jobs, they’re sticking to it regardless of flashing neon signs to the contrary – even as they inexplicably fail to update iPads for Christmas and in the face of ever-declining iPad sales. We’ll be very interested to see what Cook & Co.’s plans are for iPad and, of course, for the Mac in this coming year.

Here’s an idea: Apple could sell iPad Pros as they do now, and for those wanting a “Mac,” Apple could sell them the macOS-powered display-less keyboard/trackpad/cpu/RAM/SSD/battery base unit. Attach your iPad for the display and off you go, you Mac-headed truck driver! Plus, you get to use the iPad’s battery, too, extending battery life to provide a truly all-day battery for portable Mac users. Detach the display and you get your iOS-powered iPad back, same as always.

Too outside the box? We’d love to be able to take our 12-inch iPad Pro, mate it with this theoretical Mac base unit, and turn it into a portable Mac. Right now, we carry 12-inch iPad Pros and MacBooks in our backpacks. Guess what’s redundant? Right, the displays. We don’t need to carry two screens on the road. The iPad Pro’s screen would do just fine, thanks.

Buy the Mac base on its own (for those who already have 12-inch iPad Pros) or buy it as part of a package (get a new 12-inch iPad Pro at a nice discount when you buy it with the Mac base). Imagine if Apple had unveiled this headless MacBook that you use with your iPad at their iPad event this past fall. What would the narrative about Apple be like versus what it is today? With such a product, would Apple have missed its revenue and profit goals for the year, causing Tim Cook and other high-level Apple executives to have their compensation cut? How many more 12-inch iPad Pro sales would such a product have generated? Enough to return iPad to unit sales growth, we bet. And, how many more Macs would have been sold, too?

As for touch:

To us longtime Apple watchers, Cupertino seems to be saying, “Multi-Touch on the screen only when trackpads are not part of the device.”MacDailyNews, November 19, 2008

Does it make more sense to be smearing your fingers around on your notebook’s screen or on a spacious trackpad (built-in or on your desk) that’s designed specifically and solely to be touched? Apple thinks things through much more than do other companies. The iPhone’s and iPad’s screens have to be touched; that’s all they has available. A MacBook’s screen doesn’t not have to be touched in order to offer Multi-Touch. There is a better way: Apple’s way. And, no Gorilla Arm, either.

The only computers using Multi-Touch properly, using device-appropriate Multi-Touch input areas are Macintosh personal computers from Apple that run OS X (and Linux and can even slum it with Windows, if need be) and iOS even more personal computers (EMPCs), namely: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and iPad mini.

Note that none of this bars a “MacPad” from production. Any iOS-based iPad would become a high quality display (possibly still “touchable,” but likely not due to the reasoning stated above) when docked into a “MacBook” (running OS X, and providing keyboard, trackpad, processor, etcetera). Such a convertible device would negate having to carry both an iPad (car) and a MacBook (truck) around. They’d be one thing, but able to be separated into two, each providing the best capabilities of their respective form factors.MacDailyNews, May 4, 2013

Think code convergence (more so than today) with UI modifications per device. A unified underlying codebase for Intel, Apple A-series, and, in Apple’s labs, likely other chips, too (just in case). This would allow for a single App Store for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users that features a mix of apps: Some that are touch-only, some that are Mac-only, and some that are universal (can run on both traditional notebooks and desktops as well as on multi-touch computers like iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and – pretty please, Apple – Apple TV). Don’t be surprised to see Apple A-series-powered Macs, either.MacDailyNews Take, January 9, 2014

Anyone in the market for a 12.9-inch device that’s an OS X-powered MacBook when docked with its keyboard base and an iOS-powered iPad when undocked? — MacDailyNews, October 7, 2014

Illustration from Apple's hybrid Mac-iPad patent application
Illustration from Apple’s hybrid Mac-iPad patent application

SEE ALSO:
Lack of touchscreen Mac shows Apple is adrift without adequate product leadership – January 7, 2017

28 Comments

  1. I agree, I hate it when people touch my 27″ iMac screen to point to things, and I’m forever cleaning off fingerprints which catch in reflected light.

    Even grabbing the screen to turn it around or move it leaves standout finger marks to clean off.

    I want a clean, pristine monitor, and food particles, sweat and oil have no place. Laptop maybe but for touch stuff iPad works fine for me. Also, I have tendinitis and reachout out horizontally to touch a screen all day long would be murder.

  2. Why do people limit themselves to one or another? You should have both. Mac and PC. Non touchscreen and touchscreen. Don’t be so myopic. And don’t say you can’t afford it, because if you can afford Mac, you certainly can afford a touchscreen PC. I enjoy my Apple gear, and I enjoy my Surface Pro 4 just as well. You can have your cake and eat it too….

  3. I also don’t get WTF is the problem so many people have with the fingerprint issue. If you have any smartphone or tablet, you are well aware and used to it, so what is the goddamned big ass deal? Sounds like a bunch of sniveling little crybabies….

  4. I have been pushing for the below idea for a few years now.. 2012 or so… .. ( and up until a year or so ago i have been attacked for the sacrilegious idea .. many times .. including hosts disagreements )….. ..

    It was when i saw the new gorgeous MacBook that i was convinced that with a litlle design mod it can be pulled off and it can look sexy and be functional .
    (Its offers more flexibility than Apples patent of 2014… )

    Hyprid, Detachable Screen Adaptive OS mobile devices .

    Basically a thin laptop which functions as below:

    -Open screen, twist 180 and fold back on keyboard…. use as a PRO Tablet with choice of macOS or ios/pro
    -Open screen and detach from keyboard …… use as pure tablet (lite weight) running IOS (ios/pro )
    -Open screen and use as regular laptop …. macOS.

    priced as flagship top of the line mobile device.. above all others.

    I envision the form factor to be similar to the new MacBook.. but with flat sides and top/ bottom… Kind of a monolithic look… to accommodate for the twist and fold back feature.
    The monitor would be attached using a 2 axis pin joint mechanism (at the center of its lower edge ) which alows it to be twisted and folded back on keys. And carries power and. Omunication signals.

    I still firmly believe in this form factor and belive it will be reality sooner than later… 🤞🤞🤞

  5. Touchscreens suck for Professional Intricate work like Video Editing, Music Production, Illustrations & Photo Compositions. You can’t see what you’re doing when your hand or Fat Index Finger is in the way of creating Professional Artwork. If you wanna FingerPaint, or Draw X’s & O’s for Football plays or play Solitaire then have at it… but as a Professional Media Creator I laugh when I watched people trying to work on a touch screen… Dragging ClipArt & Stock Photos around the screen with a finger… Seriously!!! LOL True Professionals and myself included want intricate and unobstructed views of what they are creating from scratch.. not some drag and drop wanna-be designer. The comparisons are laughable and pathetic between Macs & Touchscreen Laptops. A monkey can drag and drop… ClipArt, Stock Photos, Music Loops & Pre-made Beats. But some of us are not monkeys.. but Artists with Vision, Creative Talents and Money Making Businesses!

    1. Got to agree.

      As for the “convertible” laptop with a detachable tablet screen, the first thing I want to do when I stop playing around with the tablet is to attach it to the PC part and start doing real work…

      on a teeny, tiny screen.

      For those who do work on a laptop, great for you. I had a 17″ Titanium MacBook Pro. I’ll never own another laptop.

      They’re just too small.

  6. I downloaded Duet app for my old IPad 2 the other day, which turns this old piece of technology into a second display (very useful for Final Cut Pro X), which also happens to be a multi-touch screen—and not only that it incorporates the newest Apple technology: the touch bar. A very interesting experience, which I was very pleasantly surprised by. I would love to do the same using an 12″ iPad Pro as the second display.
    Haven’t thought through all the possibilities, but I think something like this is the way forward. Also makes you think about the Touchbar, which might be new , and might be very useful, but is hardly dependent on the newest technology!

  7. My Toshiba notebook has a touchscreen. The only I time I touch it is when the trackpad isn’t working properly.

    And that’s a lot.

    Last I heard Mac trackpads were second to none.

    No need for touch.

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