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Old Feb 22, 2013, 03:36 PM   #1
Mad Mac Maniac
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Touchscreen Macs. Not a matter of "if" but "when"?

Despite what Steve Jobs said 3 years ago about touchscreens being terrible on vertical displays, I think it is absolutely inevitable that Macs will sooner or later be getting touchscreens. After all Steve has been been wrong/lied before (iPod video, 7" tablet, larger iPhone screen, etc.).

Touchscreens are becoming the norm. This is the case with iPad and other tablets. This is the case with Windows 8 laptops, all-in-ones, and convertables. Hell even Chrome OS seems to be going all-in with touchscreen. By the end of the year the marketplace will be completely flooded with them all. The "phantom touchscreen" effect, where you feel like (or sometimes actually do) reach out to touch your screen out of second nature, will only continue to intensify. Mac's will start to fall behind on perception, because all other top class laptops will have it.

Then of course just look at the iOSification of OS X. Sure it's not nearly as touch friendly as iOS or Windows 8 metro, but there certainly are a lot of touchable elements. I don't think touch will be the only input method, but it suppliments the trackpad well.

Do you agree that it's just inevitable at this point? When do you expect it? It obviously won't happen till Apple introduces a much more touch friendly interface. I don't expect it in 10.9, but possibly next year? Maybe that's what Jony is working on...
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Old Feb 22, 2013, 04:41 PM   #2
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Old Feb 22, 2013, 05:46 PM   #3
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Windows machines do benefit from a touchscreen for poking buttons.

Macs don't need a touchscreen as the touchpad is so amazingly good.
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Old Feb 22, 2013, 09:02 PM   #4
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I recall seeing an apple patent for a yoga-like macbook / tablet hybrid. It may be possible if apple ever gets round to unifying OSX and IOS, but I doubt we will see one before 2014.
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Old Feb 23, 2013, 05:43 AM   #5
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The iMac would have to have a screen sloping at an almost horizontal angle to avoid the well-known effects of "gorilla arm".
Holding your arm outstretched to point at stuff all day is immensely tiring, as people found out when the first gen touchscreens came out in the 80s.
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Old Feb 23, 2013, 06:37 AM   #6
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They will definitely do it eventually? Why, because it will become commonplace in Windows-land. And even if people don't actually use it, it will seem absurd that Apple doesn't include it.

Already, a colleague told me that his young child would sometimes hit his laptop's screen and be surprised nothing happens.

As for use cases. I can think of two.

1. I feel drag and drop can sometimes be a pain using a trackpad or a mouse. Particularly when you run out of space on your trackpad or your desk. I think it might be easier to do complex drag and drop operations using a touchscreen.

2. Sometimes when I do a lot of reading, I lose track of the mouse pointer. If you're doing a lot of reading and only need to press 'next page' every now and then, I think that might be easier to do using a touchscreen. It would eliminate the step where you frantically wiggle the pointer, hoping it will catch your eye.
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Old Feb 23, 2013, 10:32 AM   #7
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Both of those instances are already covered.

If you use 3 finger drag, you simply move the pointer with one finger to the thing you want to drag, then move it with 3 fingers. If you run out of mouse pad, you just remove and reposition your 3 fingers and carry on dragging.

Flipping the page is a 2 finger swipe. You don't need to know where the pointer is.
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Old Feb 23, 2013, 10:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benwiggy View Post
The iMac would have to have a screen sloping at an almost horizontal angle to avoid the well-known effects of "gorilla arm".
Holding your arm outstretched to point at stuff all day is immensely tiring, as people found out when the first gen touchscreens came out in the 80s.
I think you (and others) have the wrong idea about touchscreens. I was thinking the same way too. It's not an all or nothing thing... it can be used to compliment existing input methods. The comment below yours gives a couple of handy examples. Most of your time would still be down on the keyboard... and for long periods of time you can use the trackpad. But I can see it being really handy to just quickly reach up and press an icon in the dock (instead of moving to the trackpad.. finding the curser... moving it to the icon... and clicking). Touchscreen is a must faster interaction because it can directly touch whatever you want.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dove View Post
They will definitely do it eventually? Why, because it will become commonplace in Windows-land. And even if people don't actually use it, it will seem absurd that Apple doesn't include it.

Already, a colleague told me that his young child would sometimes hit his laptop's screen and be surprised nothing happens.
This is exactly right. With the enourmous presence windows, and thus eventually windows 8 with the mega touch friendly interface, touchscreens will become the norm. It's just inevitable. Can you imagine if 4 years from now if Mac's don't go touchscreen? It'll just be weird. It has got to happen.
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Old Feb 23, 2013, 10:52 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Mac Maniac View Post
Touchscreens are becoming the norm. This is the case with iPad and other tablets. This is the case with Windows 8 laptops, all-in-ones, and convertables. Hell even Chrome OS seems to be going all-in with touchscreen. By the end of the year the marketplace will be completely flooded with them all.
No.

I work at Best Buy. The touchscreen laptops don't sell. Not in comparison to the regular budget laptops (think AMD A6 and below or i3 and below). People laugh when you show them touch screens because even they can see its a gimmick on a laptop.

Also factor in that the minimum you have to spend is around $800 to get a touch screen laptop. That's no where near the market average for laptops at the average consumer level.

If anything will change the paradigm is gesture control, touchscreens are a terrible idea on laptops.
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Old Feb 24, 2013, 01:58 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spikeywan View Post
Both of those instances are already covered.

If you use 3 finger drag, you simply move the pointer with one finger to the thing you want to drag, then move it with 3 fingers. If you run out of mouse pad, you just remove and reposition your 3 fingers and carry on dragging.

Flipping the page is a 2 finger swipe. You don't need to know where the pointer is.
Three finger drag isn't on by default. Also, that's exactly the kind of complicated gesture that a touchscreen would obsolete.

'Flipping' a page is never a 2 finger swipe if you're on a webpage by the way…*that's the gesture for going through your history.

----------

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Originally Posted by NT1440 View Post
No.

I work at Best Buy. The touchscreen laptops don't sell. Not in comparison to the regular budget laptops (think AMD A6 and below or i3 and below). People laugh when you show them touch screens because even they can see its a gimmick on a laptop.

Also factor in that the minimum you have to spend is around $800 to get a touch screen laptop. That's no where near the market average for laptops at the average consumer level.

If anything will change the paradigm is gesture control, touchscreens are a terrible idea on laptops.
The way I see it, touchscreen are indeed too gimmicky to spend much money on. However, I also think they could be handy every now and then. So it's just a matter of the price going down enough, I think.
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Old Feb 24, 2013, 07:12 AM   #11
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I think this will definitely happen, but maybe not for a while.

My young half-brother plays Angry Birds on the iPad, as so naturally when he sees it on the iMac, he reaches out to try and click on the screen. It's what people will get used to.
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Old Feb 24, 2013, 09:18 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NT1440 View Post
No.

I work at Best Buy. The touchscreen laptops don't sell. Not in comparison to the regular budget laptops (think AMD A6 and below or i3 and below). People laugh when you show them touch screens because even they can see its a gimmick on a laptop.

Also factor in that the minimum you have to spend is around $800 to get a touch screen laptop. That's no where near the market average for laptops at the average consumer level.

If anything will change the paradigm is gesture control, touchscreens are a terrible idea on laptops.
No it's still way too early. That means a few things. 1) Windows 8 is new, therefore people are unfamiliar with it and don't like it/don't understand how to best use it with a touchscreen. 2) Touchscreen laptops are at the beginning of the price curve resulting in only expensive, top of the line laptops. 3) it is still a relatively new/foreign idea to have a touchscreen on a laptop.

All that will change over the next year. Love it or hate it, the Windows 8 interface WILL become natural and the norm. I admit that will definitely take much longer than a year (because most people don't update windows), but it will have gone a much farther way towards a wider understanding/appreciation. Pricing is going to go way day. Cost is usually the biggest determining factor with the average consumer, so I'm sure this is THE top reason they aren't selling right now. If touchscreen laptops are starting at $800 right now, I bet you in a year they will be starting at $500. That is a much easier sell.

Even if it's a much slower transition than I am predicting, its happening. Tablets aren't going away, they are only getting bigger. As people become more and more accustomed to interacting on the screen directly it will seem so weird/outdated to not be able to do that on their laptop as well.

Honestly, I guess the thing I am thinking about is that Apple is going to institute a paradigm shift in the OS after 10.9 (10.10? 11? Whatever), encorporating a touch friendly interace. Simultaneously they will launch touchscreen Mac's across the board. That would kind of annoy me, because I'm planning on buying a new macbook this year and I would hate for it to so quickly become outdated. I'm still rocking my macbook from 2007, so I obviously like to get my money's worth. haha
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Old Feb 24, 2013, 02:46 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dove View Post
Three finger drag isn't on by default. Also, that's exactly the kind of complicated gesture that a touchscreen would obsolete.

'Flipping' a page is never a 2 finger swipe if you're on a webpage by the way…*that's the gesture for going through your history.
Please explain to me how a three finger drag is complicated. And so what if you have to enable it… it's not that difficult.

And yes, a vertical two finger swipe will move a webpage up or down, or a PDF file page to page etc.
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Old Feb 24, 2013, 06:50 PM   #14
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The only part of OS X that is touch-optimized is Launchpad. Apple will never produce a touch-screen Mac until iOS/OS X have been merged into one.

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by NT1440 View Post
No.

I work at Best Buy. The touchscreen laptops don't sell. Not in comparison to the regular budget laptops (think AMD A6 and below or i3 and below). People laugh when you show them touch screens because even they can see its a gimmick on a laptop.

Also factor in that the minimum you have to spend is around $800 to get a touch screen laptop. That's no where near the market average for laptops at the average consumer level.

If anything will change the paradigm is gesture control, touchscreens are a terrible idea on laptops.
#1 - Windows 7 is not touch optimized, so touch is useless on that.
#2 - touch on a laptop is not ergonomic, remember Gorilla Arm?
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Old Feb 24, 2013, 07:11 PM   #15
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Not sure why people think Apple will eventually do this. If the argument is they'll do it because everyone else is, then where is the blue-ray on Macs? Where is the SD slot on the iPhone/iPad?
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Old Feb 24, 2013, 07:39 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Mad Mac Maniac View Post
No it's still way too early. That means a few things. 1) Windows 8 is new, therefore people are unfamiliar with it and don't like it/don't understand how to best use it with a touchscreen. 2) Touchscreen laptops are at the beginning of the price curve resulting in only expensive, top of the line laptops. 3) it is still a relatively new/foreign idea to have a touchscreen on a laptop.

All that will change over the next year. Love it or hate it, the Windows 8 interface WILL become natural and the norm. I admit that will definitely take much longer than a year (because most people don't update windows), but it will have gone a much farther way towards a wider understanding/appreciation. Pricing is going to go way day. Cost is usually the biggest determining factor with the average consumer, so I'm sure this is THE top reason they aren't selling right now. If touchscreen laptops are starting at $800 right now, I bet you in a year they will be starting at $500. That is a much easier sell.

Even if it's a much slower transition than I am predicting, its happening. Tablets aren't going away, they are only getting bigger. As people become more and more accustomed to interacting on the screen directly it will seem so weird/outdated to not be able to do that on their laptop as well.

Honestly, I guess the thing I am thinking about is that Apple is going to institute a paradigm shift in the OS after 10.9 (10.10? 11? Whatever), encorporating a touch friendly interace. Simultaneously they will launch touchscreen Mac's across the board. That would kind of annoy me, because I'm planning on buying a new macbook this year and I would hate for it to so quickly become outdated. I'm still rocking my macbook from 2007, so I obviously like to get my money's worth. haha
Apple is going to leapfrog, not waste their time on touchscreen computers, but instead go to a gesture based UI - NT
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Old Feb 24, 2013, 08:20 PM   #17
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I was of the view that (particularly after Steve Jobs' comments) Apple would avoid them completely but I think Windows 8 does not do a bad job of introducing the concepts esp. to new users. Apple really wants students/new business to be in the Mac business. I can see them conceding on this.
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Old Feb 25, 2013, 04:43 AM   #18
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Not sure why people think Apple will eventually do this. If the argument is they'll do it because everyone else is, then where is the blue-ray on Macs? Where is the SD slot on the iPhone/iPad?
I expect they'll do it at some point, not just because others do it, but because others do it well. Windows 8 is a brave step towards a new paradigm of computing, and it wouldn't be wise for Apple to pet themselves be left behind a second time. The dodged the Bluray thing because they made a good bet on optical media not being needed as much. I doubt the same exception can be made for touch.
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Old Feb 25, 2013, 07:25 AM   #19
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We've done pretty extensive testing as well; conclusions?
Vertical monitor = no touch
Horizontal monitor = touch

If and when horizontal ( or surface ) monitors become popular. We just couldn't get it to work, monitor took up workspace, glare, couldn't find a place to put pen and paper, but we also thought it could just be an adjustment issue that we didn't have time to work out.
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Old Feb 25, 2013, 07:56 AM   #20
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They'll only do it when they realise there is demand for it. But by then, Windows will have probably captured the market. The clunky touchpad gestures is OS X are no solution.
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Old Feb 25, 2013, 08:13 AM   #21
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I believe apple will definitely come out with a touchscreen mac. They of course are just figuring out a way to make it work in an easy to use way.

A pic of one of their patents:

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Old Feb 25, 2013, 08:37 AM   #22
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They'll only do it when they realise there is demand for it. But by then, Windows will have probably captured the market. The clunky touchpad gestures is OS X are no solution.
If there is really so much of a demand then why do sales of Windows 8 devices remain so sluggish?
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Old Feb 25, 2013, 09:04 AM   #23
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If there is really so much of a demand then why do sales of Windows 8 devices remain so sluggish?
The demand will only come when peoples none-touchscreen PC devices become outdated. In a world where many people still use XP with no problems, adoption to any new tech that MS introduce will be slow and gradual.

With Apple it is a little different since they make their devices obsolete a lot sooner and have much better marketing. Things probably won't kick off properly until Windows 9 or even 10 (providing Microsoft are going to release new versions of Windows on shorter intervals).
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Old Feb 25, 2013, 09:05 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 960design View Post
We've done pretty extensive testing as well; conclusions?
Vertical monitor = no touch
Horizontal monitor = touch

If and when horizontal ( or surface ) monitors become popular. We just couldn't get it to work, monitor took up workspace, glare, couldn't find a place to put pen and paper, but we also thought it could just be an adjustment issue that we didn't have time to work out.
Horizontal screens are unergonomic too, use one for a protracted spell and see how your neck/back hurt. You could try a 30/45 degree angle as a compromise, though that might just be the worst of both worlds.
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Old Feb 26, 2013, 12:59 AM   #25
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The demand will only come when peoples none-touchscreen PC devices become outdated. In a world where many people still use XP with no problems, adoption to any new tech that MS introduce will be slow and gradual.

With Apple it is a little different since they make their devices obsolete a lot sooner and have much better marketing. Things probably won't kick off properly until Windows 9 or even 10 (providing Microsoft are going to release new versions of Windows on shorter intervals).
So what you're saying is Microsoft fails to produce lust-worthy new devices while Apple does.
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