Snow Leopard's 'Keyboard Viewer' Sparks Renewed Speculation Regarding Mac OS X-Based Tablet

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9 to 5 Mac observed at the launch of Snow Leopard that the Keyboard Viewer feature found in earlier versions of Mac OS X has seen several changes that spark speculation that Snow Leopard may be showing hints of utility for touchscreen hardware such as Apple's much-rumored tablet computer. Notably, the Keyboard Viewer, which currently only reflects which keys on a user's keyboard are being registered by the system and displays keyboard layouts for modifier key combinations, can now be enlarged to a size that offers "finger sized" keys.




Image from Cult of Mac
Cult of Mac has picked up on the finding and extended the case to make a more complete argument for Snow Leopard as a touchscreen operating system. First, the report notes that in addition to the large Keyboard Viewer window, the option to activate the feature has been moved from the relatively obscure "International" section of System Preferences to the more prominent "Keyboard" section, hinting at movement toward considering the feature an input device.
The Mac OS has long contained a virtual keyboard, but previous versions were half-sized (see below). The old virtual keyboard was clearly not designed for actual typing, and was hidden away in the "International" tab of System Preferences. (Yeah, the keyboard could be enlarged by hitting the green button in the upper left of the folder toolbar, but still, it expanded to only three-quarter size).

The new virtual keyboard in Snow Leopard now lives under "Keyboard" in System Preferences, and is clearly put there as an alternative input method.

The virtual keyboard can be made as big as your screen -- 30-inches wide, if you have a big Cinema Display -- by dragging the window resizer at bottom left.
Cult of Mac also points to several new Dock features in Snow Leopard such as application-specific Exposé functionality and large icons within Stacks as further indications of an evolution toward touchscreen-friendliness.

A multitude of rumors surrounding an Apple tablet launch later this year or early next year have sprung up recently, but little is known about Apple's software plans for the device. While the operating system would presumably be based on existing Apple technologies, sources have yet to come forward confirming whether the tablet will use a Mac OS X-based or iPhone-based operating system.

Article Link: Snow Leopard's 'Keyboard Viewer' Sparks Renewed Speculation Regarding Mac OS X-Based Tablet
 

t0mat0

macrumors 603
Aug 29, 2006
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There are other hints
- Possibly the Look of having the dock on the LHS, versus on the bottom, in line with the dark QT Player look
- QT Player, Dock, Expose etc becoming finger friendly
- Changes to the Apple.com website to become more finger friendly
- Icon view in iTunes, though i'd imagine come September 9th we;ll see more with a new iTunes.
 

Lesser Evets

macrumors 68040
Jan 7, 2006
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More evidence that the tablet will be running Snow Leopard. Never mind logic being an arguement.
BUWAHAHA!

I loved all those people saying it won't and never will run SL. And all those people who will soon post about how tiresome these rumors are... why they care so much is a mystery.
 

hypermark

macrumors member
Mar 6, 2008
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While my money is squarely on Snow Leopard being the (as yet, unannounced) conduit OS for Apple to formally start converging their device matrix (iPhone, iPod touch, Macs, Apple TV, iPad Tablet) from an application run time and developer tools perspective, the "evidence" cited by Leander Kahney is fairly weak.

As others have noted in discussions regarding this point, it's far more likely for Apple to iterate from their best practices approach to virtual keyboard (iPhone/iPod touch) than simply tweaking the virtual keyboard that has been part of Mac OS for years.

Btw, if interested, here is the expanded analysis of the forthcoming Apple iPad Tablet device.

Apple, the ‘Boomer’ Tablet and the Matrix
http://bit.ly/DwziS

Cheers,

Mark
 

afd

macrumors 65816
Apr 12, 2005
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Just tried that on my G5 iMac with Leopard, I can get the "finger sized" one too, so looks like this isn't a new thing. Be quite good if I ever find the cash to put a mini and a touch screen into my car though...
 

ShiftyPig

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Aug 24, 2008
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How am I supposed to type and hold the thing? How am I supposed to see anything on the screen as I'm typing, editing Word documents?

Outside the fanboy market, this tablet is going to be a massive fail.
 

afd

macrumors 65816
Apr 12, 2005
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How am I supposed to type and hold the thing? How am I supposed to see anything on the screen as I'm typing, editing Word documents?

Outside the fanboy market, this tablet is going to be a massive fail.
I think if apple were going to put an on screen keyboard for a tablet they wouldn't have one that looks as clumsy as this. Maybe a have a split qwerty translucent affair that you could type with both thumbs on either side of the screen?
 

simsandwhich

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May 20, 2009
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I hope there are some aesthetic improvements as well as functional ones. It just doesn't stack up to the on-screen keyboard offered by Windows Vista and 7 :(
 

auxplage

macrumors 6502
Nov 11, 2004
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Mac OS X and apps from iTunes to iPhoto have been becoming "finger friendly" for years now.

All recent additions to apps and the GUI in general, in my opinion, are in an effort to allow a seamless transition to a touch interface.

It makes sense. There is no real use for Stacks or Coverflow as it stands with a keyboard and mouse being the main input devices, since there are much easier and efficient ways to navigate.

I think that a tablet is going to occur; of course, it may be five years before we ever see it ...
 

max-bear

macrumors newbie
Nov 18, 2008
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"f you find it easier to use a pointing device than a keyboard, you can use an onscreen keyboard to enter text instead. It floats above other applications, so you can’t lose it, and it can be displayed small or large."

http://www.apple.com/macosx/accessibility/

So I am going with pretty weak "evidence" too.


I second this. It is just apple improving their accessibility. I used to work helping disabled people with IT and the majority preferred to work on a touch monitor with an on screen keyboard. (mac and pc)

I see this as no reference to a tablet whatsoever. (even though we all know one is on the way)!
 

arn

macrumors god
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Apr 9, 2001
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I personally think this speculation is crap. and a big stretch. there's plenty of reasons to think apple's working on a tablet. this is not one of them.

arn
 

corinhorn

macrumors 6502a
Apr 27, 2008
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I second this. It is just apple improving their accessibility. I used to work helping disabled people with IT and the majority preferred to work on a touch monitor with an on screen keyboard. (mac and pc)
I third that! As someone who uses the accessibility features of Mac OS X everyday, I have witnessed an increase of accessibility features in Snow Leopard and this virtual keyboard change is only related to accessibility. This tablet speculation because of this keyboard is pointless.
 

g-7

macrumors 6502
Feb 14, 2006
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Shift locking

This "virtual keyboard" is useless, because there is no way to "lock" the Shift key. You may click Shift twice, but it doesn't do the trick. Try to enter "@" sign to see what I mean.
 

nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,546
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This evidence is pretty meaningless I think.

* Function moved to keyboard prefs? Yes, lots of reorganizing was done with Keyboard and Mouse. This change is simply a logical arrangement.

* Resizable keyboard viewer? Pretty thin. Lots of things are resizable.

* Exposé changes? Helpful to everyone--an extension of past features.

These are not clues to anything.

Furthermore, a touch-specific UI (look at iPhone) would be DIFFERENT from a mouse UI, and kept under wraps until release. The mouse-based OS isn't going to just pick up a few touch-centric controls here and there--it has UI features MEANT for mouse and keyboard.

Hidden clues inside the OS might point to other "sibling" OS products. But UI functionality tells us little.
 

Doctor Q

Administrator
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Sep 19, 2002
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Having the Keyboard Viewer under the Keyboard section of System Preferences makes sense whether or not a tablet is coming.

Finding special characters like the checkmark or the apple symbol is not an "international" issue, and neither is the Character Palette.
 
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