All Signs Point to Multi-Touch Macs

Apple iPhoneAnyone who’s used an iPhone or an iPod Touch will no doubt agree that the Apple Multi-Touch interface is simply a joy. Not only is it the sleekest, but also the most intuitive interface of any mobile device. It makes the Nokia N95 look like it was designed by robots. So with this revolutionary interface, and I’m not overstating how good it is, what is Apple to do? When you’ve got the best interface on any portable device, you have to move to larger platforms.This has been rumoured for quite a while, the movement of “Full OSX” towards using a Multi-Touch interface. However, I believe this is more than just a rumour, and recent changes within OSX are pointing towards a Multi-Touch computer coming soon. So what are these changes, and how will they facilitate a Multi-Touch device? lets take a look.

CoverFlow

Coverflow in FinderTouch devices, especially those that rely on the touch of human fingers (as opposed to a stylus) have to overcome a fundamental problem. The human finger is not a precise pointing device, at least not to the same degree as a mouse pointer. The genius in the iPhone interface, a way to avoid this problem, is Coverflow (Coverflow is on the Leopard Finder Page). With Coverflow, you can thumb through your music collection extremely easily, with very vague and imprecise touches.Leopard brought Coverflow into finder, the application used to browse through files in OSX. Imagine, for a moment, trying to use a touchscreen running OSX. Let’s say it’s on a MacBook’s 13.3 inch screen. It would be incredibly difficult to reliably select individual files or folders using the finder in Tiger. But with Coverflow, it suddenly becomes incredibly easy.

Quick Look

Quick Look in LeopardA Multi-Touch device cannot survive as only a Multi-Touch device. You have to fall back to the regular keyboard and mouse. This means that, effectively, any touch driven device is only really a temporary touch device. Whenever I’ve used a touch device, a Tablet PC for example, it’s lived most if it’s life docked on a desk, only being unleashed, and touched, occasionally. When the device was out and about, it was only for fairly simple tasks, like demonstrating something, or capturing information. None of the real work was done using the touch features.This is where Quick Look comes in. If all you want to do is show a Word document to a colleague, you don’t want to wait for Office to load along with all the gubbins, you just want to quickly display something. This is exactly what Quick Look does, and it does it perfectly.

Spaces

Spaces in LeopardEarlier, I alluded to the fact that fingers are imprecise compared to the pointing devices. This means that interface objects have to be bigger than usual, therefore, you can’t fit as much on screen. So what’s needed is a way to reduce the amount on screen, without reducing the capacity of the environment to support multiple elements. Does this sound at all like Spaces? As good as Expose is, it would be rendered useless once a certain number of objects has been reached, this is exacerbated when you start to use a touch interface.

And…

There are other signs that seem to be pointing towards Multi-Touch displays. To pick another, the new “swipe” method of browsing through photos in iPhoto events is clearly designed with touch controls in mind. There’s also the insistence from Apple that the iPhone runs on OSX, not an alternative, cut down operating system. This, to me, means that plugging in a Multi-Touch interface into OSX.Is anyone else having the same thoughts, based on the same evidence? Or do you disagree with my reasoning?  Be sure to let us know in the comments.