Apple Refining the Touch Screen Interface? Evidence for a Tablet Mac?

Throughout 2005, Apple continued to apply for numerous touch-screen technology patents. These patents aren't simply attributable to the rumored touch-screen iPod. Many of the patents have shown Mac OS X elements and interfaces.

The most recent addition was filed in September 2005 and called "Operation of a computer with touch screen interface". Again, individuals at Apple appear to be spending a lot of time on the potential interface for users of a touch screen device. The patent describes the the possible advantage of touch screens by being able to "glean much more information about a user's actions" than from conventional keyboards.

The methods described are intriguing in that it appears that there could be a level of refinement to the touch interface that has not been present in previous devices. Again, Apple describes the utility of offering a multi-touch capable display which can process multiple figures and gestures to provide additional information.

The authors describe a number of interesting potential techniques to gather more information from the user operating the virtual interface (keyboard and GUI elements on the screen)

- Both pressure and time of screen presses could also be used to interpret action and intention by the users. (Chart)
- In one example, the user might be required to hold down on a "delete" button longer than is required to activate the "keep" button for an item. The delete function requiring more time to ensure that data is not accidentally erased. (Picture)
- Gestures are described to provide additional "hidden" functionality. For example, in describing an on-screen keyboard, a user could press on the letter "e" and then stroke the finger in a particular direction away from the letter to invoke a special variation (such as ). (Picture). Of historical interest, individuals at Apple had done research into similar point/flick gesture interfaces in 1994 ("T-Cube: a fast, self-disclosing pen-based alphabet") when researching alternative input methods for the Newton.
- Additional gestures may be required to activate special functionality... "wiggle" is given as an example. Again, the Newton allowed users to erase text by simply performing a zig-zag "crossing out" gesture over the text. (Quicktime Movie).

While patent applications do not necessarily mean these technologies will turn up as shipping products, it's clear a significant portion of research at Apple involves touch-screen technology. Rumors of a Tablet Mac last peaked in 2003 with a traditionally reliable source of information pointing to a Mac OS X tablet at that time:

(2003) My sources sketch the following picture: A device that superficially resembles a large iPod with an 8-inch diagonal screen, lacks a keyboard, packs USB and FireWire ports, and runs Mac OS X along with a variety of multimedia goodies.

Steve Jobs was skeptical of the success of the Tablet form factor in 2002. Indeed, the Tablet PC's have not been a great success, but with Microsoft/Intel's introduction of the Ultra Mobile PC form factor, the market may see a renewed interest in tablet devices.

As a final interesting hint, in July of 2005 a small company called FingerWorks cryptically posted that they had ceased operations as a business. Multiple reports indicated that the company had been sold, but details were scarce. According to individuals close to the company, Apple had indeed purchased the company and related technology/patents. At the time, FingerWorks had offered advanced input devices, including a multi-touch product called iGesture Pad which allowed users to use Gestures to interface with their Mac. At the time it was thought that Apple was interested in touch and click-wheel related technology for the iPod, but the Gesture/MultiTouch technology may have been an important part of the acquisition.

Top Rated Comments

Staffroomer Avatar
204 months ago
This sounds like the future of computing to me. Seriously, I don't think keyboards and mice are going to be around forever. It'll be interesting to see how things play out..

I reserve the right to be totally wrong and change my mind about this at any given time though.

How postmodern of me. :p
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
affinity designer contour tool

Serif Updates Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher With New Tools and Functions

Thursday February 4, 2021 1:58 am PST by
Serif today announced across-the-board updates for its popular suite of Affinity creative apps, including Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and the Apple award-winning Affinity Publisher for Mac, all of which were among the first professional creative suites to be optimized for Apple's new M1 chip. "After another year which saw record numbers of people switching to Affinity, it's exciting to...
maxresdefault

Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak Discuss iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, Privacy, Shortcuts on Mac, and More

Saturday June 12, 2021 6:12 am PDT by
As is tradition, Apple executives Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak joined Daring Fireball's John Gruber in an episode of The Talk Show to discuss several announcements that Apple made over this weeks WWDC, including iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and a large focus around privacy. Federighi kicks off the conversation discussing the common architecture, now thanks to Apple silicon, across all of...
M1X MBP Feature

Leaker: Upcoming MacBook Pro to See Price Hike Over Current Model, Equal Performance Across 14 and 16-Inch Sizes

Tuesday August 24, 2021 5:28 am PDT by
The upcoming 14-inch MacBook Pro is set to be more expensive than the current 13-inch MacBook Pro and both the 14 and 16-inch models will offer the same performance, according to the leaker known as "Dylandkt." The leaker shared the information on Twitter, explaining that both of the upcoming MacBook Pro models, expected to come in 14 and 16-inch sizes, will feature the same performance due...
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...
YouTube Picture in Picture Feature

YouTube Premium Subscribers Can Now Use iOS Picture-in-Picture: Here's How

Wednesday August 25, 2021 3:55 am PDT by
Google has rolled out picture-in-picture support as an "experimental" feature for YouTube premium subscribers, allowing them to watch video in a small window when the app is closed. If you're a premium YouTube subscriber looking to try out picture-in-picture, follow these steps: Launch a web browser and sign into your YouTube account at YouTube.com. Navigate to www.youtube.com/new. Scroll...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Kuo: iPhone 13 to Feature LEO Satellite Communications to Make Calls and Texts Without Cellular Coverage

Sunday August 29, 2021 7:39 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 will feature low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication connectivity to allow users to make calls and send messages in areas without 4G or 5G coverage, according to the reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that the iPhone 13 lineup will feature hardware that is able to connect to LEO satellites. If enabled with the relevant...
twitterqrcode

Twitter Introduces QR Codes for Sharing and Following Accounts

Wednesday November 16, 2016 4:13 pm PST by
Twitter today introduced Snapchat-style QR codes, which are designed to make it easier to find and follow friends on the social network. Each Twitter QR code is unique to an individual Twitter user, so when scanned, it'll bring up the person's account. To access your Twitter QR code, you'll need the official Twitter app for iOS. In the app, go to your profile, tap on the gear icon, and select...
macOS Monterey on MBP Feature

Apple Seeds Sixth Beta of macOS Monterey to Developers

Monday August 30, 2021 1:11 pm PDT by
Apple today seeded the sixth developer beta of macOS Monterey, the newest version of the macOS operating system. The sixth beta comes three weeks after Apple released the fifth macOS Monterey beta. Registered developers can download the beta through the Apple Developer Center and once the appropriate profile is installed, betas will be available through the Software Update mechanism in...