Touch Me

A lot of the Apple rumours going around the traps at the moment relate to the iPhone OS. And why not? It's making Apple enough money that the size of Steve Jobs' offshore money bin recently caused seismic shifts leading to the explosions of Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano.

Or that's the rumour I've heard, anyway.

Anyway, so the rumours go, all sorts of features of iPhone OS are going to leak over into Mac OS X 10.7. For the purposes of making sure I don't get the name right this time, I'm going to suggest that 10.7 will be called "LOLcat". I'm sure that will be wrong. But you owe me a beer if it's not.

In any case, some of the rumours circling are at least a little bit LOL-worthy, especially the one that states that Apple will open up an OS X "App Store", and anything that runs on LOLcat will need Apple approval. I can't exactly see that happening in a sane universe, and I can't even see a huge benefit to Apple in doing so, given the backlash that would ensue.

One of the other features of iPhone OS that I have seen endlessly rumoured is the inclusion of touch support within OS X. Touch is one of those holy-grail-type applications that tech types have drooled over for decades now, with varying degrees of success. If you've ever struggled to use one of those information screens in big shopping centres, you'll know what I mean.

Apple has a product suite that does touch very well in the iPod touch, iPhone and iPad. V ery well, it should be noted, for a set series of functions — not all of which would translate well to OS X. Selection is OK, but typing is a bit of a chore. It's workable, and I've trained my fingers well enough for iPhone/iPod touch typing, but larger screen typing on the iPad is another story altogether.

When I originally sat down to write this column, I was going to compare the touch capabilities of an iPad to those of the multi-touch tappable mouse on the Core i7 MacBook. I started out typing the column on the iPad. Here's my completely untouched, uncorrected iPad work:

"I had reason to ponder that this week Sm I starte d testing two new Apple products this weaken. First, an iPad 64GB WiFi, and then a core i7 !ackbook.

Just for the heck of it, I thought I'd test this thesis by typing up nor half on the iPad and one half on the MacBook. I would eve left tit like that to show the differences in quality, but if younhVdmt worked out by now that the first half so far has been on iPad (sans corrections) then you're really not paying attention.

I touch type, and for e iPhone t)-5/ worked out ok, But my speedy approach to typing just plain doesn't suit the iPad all that

Well n

Over to the Macbook I think, just so this column becomes vaguely legible."

It's not very good, is it? Although the internet being what it is, the mention of a "left tit" might bring in a whole lot more traffic to this article. Hello there. This isn't what you're looking for. Sorry.

Admittedly, I am a touch typist and I did type all of that at a speed approaching the kind of speed I'd normally type on a keyboard. Yes, the iPad does support Bluetooth keyboards and it would be conceivable to pair one up for faster typing duties, but then you'd be carrying around two gadgets and worrying about the battery endurance on both of them. It would also be rather contrary to Apple's design goals in terms of simple interfaces. Remember, this is the company that stuck for years to single-button mice design goals (while supporting multi-button mice) on the grounds that it led to simpler user experiences.

As an aside, thinking back to my introductory paragraph, if ever there's a word you don't want to type into an iPad, it's Eyjafjallajökull. Hang on for a second while I try that one.


Not quite accurate, although I'd be willing to bet a fair proportion of the audience would have just as much luck pronouncing the iPad version. At least it didn't try to autocorrect it.

What do you think? Are touch interfaces the inevitable way of the future for everything?

Discuss it with me at MacTheForum!

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