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
195 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

microsoft edge ios android

Bill Gates Says His Preference for Android Over iPhone is Due to Pre-Installed Software

Friday February 26, 2021 3:35 am PST by
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates this week participated in his first meeting on Clubhouse, the increasingly popular invite-only conversation app, where he fielded a range of questions as part of an ongoing book tour. Gates was interviewed by journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, and given that the Clubhouse app is currently only available on iOS, naturally one of the questions that came up was...
First Look Big Sur Feature2

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 to Prevent MacBooks From Being Damaged by Third-Party Non-Compliant Docks

Thursday February 25, 2021 10:07 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.2.2, the fourth update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November. macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 comes two weeks after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.2.1, a bug fix update. The new ‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌ 11.2.2‌ update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences....
flat mbp 14 inch feature yellow

Redesigned 14-Inch MacBook Pro Expected to Feature Brighter Mini-LED Display With Slimmer Bezels and More

Thursday February 25, 2021 7:48 am PST by
Apple plans to unveil new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with Mini-LED-backlit displays in the second half of this year, according to industry sources cited by Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes. The report claims that Radiant Opto-Electronics will be the exclusive supplier of the Mini-LED backlight units, while Quanta Computer is said to be tasked with final assembly of the...
jon prosser imac 2021colors

Prosser: 2021 iMac to Come in Five Colors, Apple Silicon Mac Pro to Resemble 'Stacked' Mac Minis

Wednesday February 24, 2021 7:26 am PST by
Hit-and-miss leaker Jon Prosser has today alleged that the upcoming 2021 iMac models will offer five color options, mirroring the colors of the fourth-generation iPad Air, and revealed a number of additional details about the Mac Pro with Apple Silicon. In a new video on YouTube channel FrontPageTech, Prosser explained that the redesigned iMacs will come featuring options for Silver, Space ...
steam apple logo

Valve Ordered to Give Apple Information on 436 Steam Games As Part of Epic Games Legal Case

Thursday February 25, 2021 1:50 am PST by
Valve, the makers behind popular game distribution platform Steam, will be forced to hand over aggregate historical sales, price, and other information on 436 games hosted on the store to Apple, as part of the Apple vs. Epic Games antitrust case. As reported in a paywalled report by Law360, during a virtual discovery hearing on Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas S. Hixson ordered that...
apple store macarthur center

Apple Store at MacArthur Center in Virginia Permanently Closing Following Years of Safety Issues at Shopping Mall

Thursday February 25, 2021 4:45 pm PST by
Apple today indicated that its retail store at the MacArthur Center shopping mall in Norfolk, Virginia will be permanently closing after over 14 years of business, although an exact closure date has yet to be announced by the company. Apple has assured that it will be offering all employees at the store other positions within Apple, and said that it looks forward to continuing to serve...
m1 mac mini

M1 Mac Users Report Excessive SSD Wear

Tuesday February 23, 2021 7:07 am PST by
Over the past week, some M1 Mac users have been reporting alarming SSD health readings, suggesting that these devices are writing extraordinary amounts of data to their drives (via iMore). Across Twitter and the MacRumors forums, users are reporting that M1 Macs are experiencing extremely high drive writes over a short space of time. In what appear to be the most severe cases, M1 Macs are sai...
apple refurbished m1 mac mini

Apple Begins Selling Refurbished M1 Mac Mini

Thursday February 25, 2021 6:42 pm PST by
Apple today began selling certified refurbished Mac mini models with the M1 chip for the first time in the United States and Canada, with prices discounted by approximately 15 percent compared to brand new models as usual. For example, a refurbished Mac mini with the M1 chip, 256GB of SSD storage, and 16GB of unified memory is available for $759, compared to $899 brand new. Other custom...
qualcomm snapdragon x60 5g

iPhone 13 Lineup Expected to Use Qualcomm's Snapdragon X60 Modem With Several 5G Improvements

Wednesday February 24, 2021 8:10 am PST by
Apple's next-generation iPhone 13 lineup will use Qualcomm's Snapdragon X60 5G modem, with Samsung to handle manufacturing of the chip, according to DigiTimes. Built on a 5nm process, the X60 packs higher power efficiency into a smaller footprint compared to the 7nm-based Snapdragon X55 modem used in iPhone 12 models, which could contribute to longer battery life. With the X60 modem, iPhone...
2021 mbp sd slot feature2

Kuo: New MacBook Pro Models With HDMI Port and SD Card Reader to Launch Later This Year

Monday February 22, 2021 8:52 pm PST by
Apple plans to release two new MacBook Pro models equipped with an HDMI port and SD card reader in the second half of 2021, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who outlined his expectations in a research note obtained by MacRumors. The return of an SD card reader was first reported by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman last month. "We predict that Apple's two new MacBook Pro models in 2H21 will have...