Multi-Touch Coming to a Mac Near You?

by Aaron Wright Mar 06, 2007

A recent article on Ars Technia has a snippet of information that got me wondering, will Leopard feature multi-touch technology capability or, more to the point, will Apple be releasing some form of hardware this year with multi-touch technology built right in?

The article states as a rumour the following:

“There will be no Logic 8. The successor to Logic 7 will have a new name. The unnamed application will be 10.5 only and will work with a new line of touch sensitive Apple displays.”

Now, while that is currently out of context to the rest of the article, the information we all really care about is staring us in the face, “…and will work with a new line of touch sensitive Apple displays.”

As we all know, multi-touch is the Apple patented technology being used on the iPhone. It’s apparently a bit better than the standard touch-screen stuff we’re all used to, especially since it ignores accidental touches of the screen with stray fingers. So if Apple has patented this technology on its iPhone, is it so hard to believe that Apple will be introducing either a multi-touch enabled Mac or display in the very near future to work with OS X Leopard?

There is a possibility that a Mac could feature multi-touch, especially as direct competition with HP’s latest beast of a computer, the HP TouchSmart PC, something I wrote about last December when it was then known as the HP CrossFire. The HP machine, which runs Windows Vista, will feature touch-screen technology aiming to draw in home users—a few demos I’ve seen show people flicking through photos on the screen with their fingers, which is all very sci-fi like to me.

While some people are calling this machine, you guessed it, the iMac killer, I certainly do not think it will be, and that’s got nothing to do with my love of the shiny white computer created by the fruity technology giant. For home users, touch screen technology seems a little too much like a novelty to me. How tiring is it going to get to drag your fingers across a 19” screen for over an hour and a half while trying to arrange photos from your friend’s recent wedding in Corfu? I’m not suggesting that computer users are lazy, but shoulder muscles will be aching after a while and I have no doubt users will resort back to their trusted lazy-boy keyboard and mouse to operate the system.

So maybe Apple won’t be introducing a multi-touch Mac, maybe they’ll stick to displays instead and aim their sexy technology at business folk and professionals.

While working at PC World, I remember the whole till system being transformed from a safe and trusted textual based system to a rather questionable touch-screen system. When it worked it was great, but it didn’t always work, which forced us poor Customer Service folks to write everything down by hand (I hear some old-timers shouting “back in my day” at this point). But after months and months of maintenance it began to work correctly. The main fault behind all this, though, was probably due to it running on Windows XP—I cannot tell you how many times it crashed with a typical XP-style error popping up in my face.

My point is that when the touch-screen system worked, it was fast and it got the job done with minimal effort, so perhaps all retail stores will be upgrading to touch-screen displays sometime in the near future—suddenly a new market has opened up for Apple. Provided they can keep their hardware prices down to somewhere near attractive for companies such as Walmart, I could see OS X Leopard and a new Mac display (or to contradict myself at this point, a new business-only Mac) selling really well amongst retail outlets across the world.

Apple has recently announced a special event to take place at NAB 2007, but this will probably be pro tools related, such as Final Cut Studio and Soundtrack Pro announcements, so it seems more likely that all the major announcements for Leopard and any possible touch-screen displays will feature at WWDC 2007, which was pushed forward two months to this June. Only time will tell now, but I dare say this rumour will be amongst one of the most talked-about until that day arrives.


  • I made this comment over at digg already, but I thought I’d just paste it here too.

    I think everone is missing the bigger picture, and to be honest I’m quite surprised sites like this didn’t think of it already. Sure apple could realease touch screen Mac’s for retail and recording studios etc., but I think that home Mac’s will also get touch screens, however they will differ in that the display wont have a touch screen - the keyboard will. By Apple making a multi-touch touch screen keyboard, they could kill the standard keyboard and mouse for future Mac users. You’d move the on screen cursor with one finger on the keyboard’s screen, you’d click by tapping, right click by tapping with two finders. The dock could replace the F-keys. The keyboard could display anything from messages like: “You have one new Mail!”. QWERTY or DVORAK? It doesn’t matter select your preference in keyboard preferences. I for one would be right there to buy one.

    Ireland had this to say on Mar 06, 2007 Posts: 11
  • I don’t really see how a multi-touch screen keyboard would be beneficial to anyone, as it would only prove more costly and add to the likely-hood of it breaking down at some point. It’s more of a gimic than something that would change the way we use computers really.

    Aaron Wright had this to say on Mar 06, 2007 Posts: 104
  • This is already happening, I think. I found a “bug” in quicktime like two months ago, no one listened on the rumor forums, maybe i’m a jackass. Find a macbook, or mbp. Open quicktime to watch a movie. Hold down one finger. Move the other one side to side. You are controlling volume at this point. I don’t think it will be more then the base of the keyboard, but multi touch is coming, I think quicktime was the leak. What the implementation looks like, i don’t know. I’d like to see the whole bottom of the keyboad turn into a trackpad, two hands on screen at once, like different dots or something for reference. Or, they can build it into the display, but I think the mouse will soon be dead, no matter what. Hopefully we can find a way to play doom.

    stfuller had this to say on Mar 06, 2007 Posts: 1
  • stfuller, that’s just apple’s implementation of two-finger scrolling. scroll vertically to change position in the movie.

    However, part of me does believe that it foreshadows a multi-touch gesture-based future.

    Benji had this to say on Mar 06, 2007 Posts: 927
  • Apple acquired it’s multi-touch / gesturing technology and IP buy purchasing the FingerWorks company.

    √ it out

    Here’s a fan-based site “Keeping the FingerWorks spirit alive”.

    I have 4 of their products and they’re great.

    Here’s hoping Apple will release the “original” keyboards.

    They even had the “MacNTouch” a keyboard replacement for powerbooks!!


    Friendly Stranger had this to say on Mar 06, 2007 Posts: 2
  • Here’s a better look at the MacNTouch in action….

    Friendly Stranger had this to say on Mar 06, 2007 Posts: 2
  • What happened to the guys who did the multi touch videos that have been everywhere on the net? (The same as pictured in the iMac above)

    Do they work for Apple now? Did Apple patent the idea from under them? Did Apple buy the patent from them? had this to say on Mar 07, 2007 Posts: 1
  • I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and this is what made think that Apple really has BIG plans for this: When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, he compared multitouch to the mouse and the click-wheel:

    “We have been very lucky to have brought a few revolutionary user interfaces to the market - the mouse, the click wheel, and now Multi-Touch.”

    So Steve compares multitouch with the mouse. Would he if it were only to be used in a phone. No, he wouldn’t.

    Have a look at my post:

    It also links to another post about multitouch (both with videos). You can see how much multitouch has developed in just a short time.

    There’s also some background on multitouch and which technology Apple uses in the iPhone and (hopefully) future Apple displays with multitouch.

    oyvind had this to say on Mar 07, 2007 Posts: 1
  • Ireland, I reckon yours is a great idea and definitely the way of the future. However, it may still be too costly to implement in a full size keyboard. But maybe to begin with we’ll see a born again trackpad with mini LCD screen.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Mar 07, 2007 Posts: 1209
  • The problem with touch screen keyboards is that people just won’t like them.

    As useful as touch screens are, they give no tactile feedback. People have always despised membrane and chiclet type keyboards. I think even an LCD touch keyboard would be a really hard sell unless it brings some extra real WOW to usability.

    I think we’re likely to see this technology implemented in a larger trackpad, perhaps with input capabilities more like a Wacom pen/tablet combo.

    vb_baysider had this to say on Mar 07, 2007 Posts: 243
  • Unless you do the weather on tv, I can’t see touch-screen to be of any use for day-to-day coomputing.  Just imagine holding out your hand or hands in front of you and reaching out to the screen for more than 5 minutes.

    Here’s the fix:

    A large touch pad on the desk and a real-time virtual (perhaps translucent) image of your hand super-imposed on the screen that accurately tracks your real hand’s movements on the touch pad.  Problem solved!

    Still, I prefer a keyboard and mouse.

    tundraboy had this to say on Mar 07, 2007 Posts: 132
  • Yes, reaching to the screen all the time would suck, unless of course you’re using a Mutli-Touch iTablet, or imagine a Dual Screen Macbook, where the entire keyboard and trackpad are replaced with a Mutli-Touch display.  I actually wrote an article back in Jan called <a >What Has Apple Got in Store for Us Next?</a> that predicts both of these products.

    Tom Howard had this to say on Mar 07, 2007 Posts: 1
  • The fact that Steve Jobs, himself, said that the iPhone runs OS X + the fact that the iPhone is slated for a “June” just prior to a “Spring” release for Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard.”


    1+1 = 2 lol

    Homemadeπ had this to say on Mar 08, 2007 Posts: 1
  • My opinion is that multi touch is a sure thing when it comes to the future of Macs. This is something certain just like the use of dll files was something new when they first started to work with more powerful applications. Technology develops further and further every day. You never know how a computer will look like 10 years from now.

    IBMdude had this to say on Sep 01, 2011 Posts: 50
  • I wonder if you can do web design Tucson on that mac.My dream is to work in a web design company on a Mac.

    Aramica had this to say on Sep 26, 2011 Posts: 14
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