On the Touchy Subject of Future Macs 

At yesterday’s event, Steve Jobs said this about touchscreen Macs:

It gives great demo, but after a while your arm feels like it’s going to fall off. Touch surfaces want to be horizontal.

I think most people assume that the future of the desktop computer is touch.

I got this email from ForkBombr reader Paul S.:

So I’ve been thinking, do you envision a fully touch-based Mac? Imagine two iPads clamshelled together like an 11-inch Air. Top mainly for display, bottom mainly for input.

As an editor, I can imagine a 24-inch (x2) version of this, using FCP full-screen: timeline, bins, controls on a large control surface in front of me, video displays up top.

The design would be clunky though, I think. and an Apple all-in-one in this manner is hard to imagine. I don’t much like the patent leaks for touch-based iMac that have been floating around (with the adjustable stand).

Paul is referring to this image, from an Apple patent outlining how an iMac could swivel down and become a touch-based computer.

This plan outlines a computer that is used like a “normal” desktop, with a keyboard and mouse, but that can also act as a single Multi-Touch device when lowered to a horizontal position. I don’t think Paul’s double-iPad-clamshell device would work, especially since there’d still be a disconnect between the input and what’s actually happening. The only thing more disjointed than the current keyboard and mouse would be touch a surface to have something move or happen on another surface.

I think that while this patent solves the “touch wants to be hardware” issue, it doesn’t solve the software issue.

Even with Lion’s new features,[1. Of course, Mission Control and Launchpad in and of themselves are ready for touch, but the rest of the GUI isn’t close to being touch-friendly.] Mac OS X is simply not ready for touch. Menus, window controls, lists[2. Like mailboxes in Mail or media sources in iTunes.] and complicated toolbars are too small of targets to be usable with a finger. The remarks Jobs made about 7-inch tablets and small targets can be applied to the desktop, too.