Shortly after the Apple Store opened back home, my mom and I were in the mall and we stopped in. One of the things I showed her was the first generation iMac with LCD screen. I adjusted the screen to be a comfortable angle for us both to look at it, and started to show her around the desktop. While pointing to one of the icons on the Dock, my finger accidentally tapped the LCD screen which caused a little ripple around my finger as can happen with an LCD when you tap at little too hard. My mom noticed the ripple too, an her eyes instantly lit up, "Can you just touch the screen?" she said. "No," I said, "not quite yet." That simple experience was enough to convince me that touchscreens are the next big thing in modern computing; on the same order of the mouse and the graphical user interface. On June 29th, Apple will release the iPhone, their first product with a touchscreen since the Newton. So the question is, what will be Apple's next Multi-Touch product?
While the iPhone will be Apple's first multi-touch device product, it's use of Multi-Touch is fairly limited. Reportedly the maximum number of fingers the iPhone can recognize is 2, and it seems like the only gesture it can recognize is the "Pinch" zoom gesture. So there's clearly a lot more that can be done with the technology. To me there are 4 likely candidates for next Multi-Touch products.
iPod with Multi-Touch
Steve Jobs has already hinted that an iPod running OS X is in the pipes, and it will probably also have a Multi-Touch display. This seems very likely as an iPod with a Multi-Touch could use the same display as the iPhone, and probably much of the same internal hardware. Also, since the iPhone is only for AT&T there will likely be a good demand for an iPhone minus the phone, i.e. a great iPod with Wi-Fi for web-browsing, Google Maps, Skype, etc. However, Apple may not want to release a Multi-Touch iPod to soon after the iPhone because it could decrease iPhone sales. However, I wouldn't be at all surprised if we see a Multi-Touch iPod for Christmas of this year, and possibly as soon as October.
Multi-Touch Cinema Display
Multi-Touch Cinema Displays, rumoured about
would be perfect for creative professionals, particularly sound engineers
and video editors. Obviously though it will have to be able to
recognize more than just 2 finger touches at a time, so Multi-Touch Cinema
Displays will probably be able to support at least 20 simultaneous
touches. I'd also expect Multi-Touch Cinema Displays be able to be
positioned either vertically, like current displays, or horizontally, like a
drafting table or mixing board. However, Multi-Touch Cinema Displays
sizes could be prohibitively expensive which might delay the release of such
a product for some time. For instance the
Lemur has a 12" multi-touch screen and it retails for about $2,000.
I think there's a very good chance that the
the charts" Macs hinted at by Steve Jobs will begin with a Multi-Touch
iMac. While I firmly believe that Multi-Touch will make
computers easier, faster, and more fun to use at lot of users may not be
ready for the change. So before Apple makes a Multi-Touch iMac, it
will have to be extremely confident that people enjoy using the new
interface. For that reason a Multi-Touch iMac may be a risky next
product. And again, a multi-touch display on an iMac could be
prohibitively expensive. Also, like a Multi-Touch Cinema Display, I'd
expect a Multi-Touch iMac be able to be positioned either vertically or
Multi-Touch Ultra-Portable Tablet
Many consumers have been longing for a ultra portable Mac, and a Multi-Touch
tablet in the 2-3 lbs range with about 12" a screen and no physical keyboard
could be just right. I'd personally love to see such a tablet from
Apple that offers a dockable keyboard, and a dock that connects to a Cinema
Display and full size keyboard. If Apple did create such a product it
would probably be the first in a whole new direction for their
portables. Such a product also seems like an appropriate way to
integrate Multi-Touch into their portables.