Bye-Bye Mousie

Since I so rarely offer an opin­ion on any­thing until it appears well-set­tled to me, it is very rare indeed for me to be able to say “Hah!” in ref­er­ence to some­thing pre­vi­ous­ly declaimed in these pages. Yet that is exact­ly what I am now about to do.

Three months ago I inter­pret­ed a new prod­uct from Apple — the Mag­ic Track­pad — as the begin­ning of the end of the Cuper­ti­no crowd’s sup­port of the device they had pop­u­lar­ized to begin with (“Did Apple Just Kill the Mouse?”, 30 July 2010). And now, look­ing at the lim­it­ed pre­view of the lat­est iter­a­tion of the Apple’s oper­a­tion sys­tem from the spe­cial pre­sen­ta­tion of 20 Octo­ber, it seems clear to me that their move­ment in this direc­tion is com­ing fast and deci­sive­ly. Build­ing on the appar­ent suc­cess of the iPad (more on that nov­el­ty device to come soon), Mac OS X “Lion” will offer a bold new way to nav­i­gate and orga­nize every­thing on your com­put­er.

Bold and new, that is, unless you have been using an iPad already. They have tak­en the mul­ti-touch inter­face they pio­neered and opti­mized for their grow­ing mobile device mar­ket and brought it around into their more stan­dard com­put­ing offer­ings. But to do all these mar­velous things, it is obvi­ous that a mul­ti-touch inter­face will be required. This will be a giv­en with the new­er lap­top mod­els, of course, and it is true that the newest iter­a­tion of the Mag­ic Mouse incor­po­rates mul­ti-touch sup­port (although I have not tried one myself). It just seems to me, though, that there is less and less rea­son for a user to want a mouse in this kind of com­put­ing envi­ron­ment. All the mul­ti-touch enabled mouse real­ly does is form a bridge between the two modes. But I think it is a bridge that few­er and few­er with both­er using once they see that they could just as eas­i­ly step across to the oth­er side.

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