back to article Multi-touch iMacs prepped in Cupertino?

Apple is reportedly sampling touch-panel displays for use in its iMac line of all-in-one desktops, in an expansion of the Jobsian desire to create a touchy-feely computing world. This report comes by way of the Taiwanese market-watchers at DigiTimes, whose army of sources have touched off many a rumor flurry over the years. …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    I bet the only way you will be able to clean the grubby screens is with Apple's (patented) screen clean at $20 a bottle. Anything else will void your warranty!

    Will keep the iDiots amused and Skeletor in sheckles.

    1. Richard 81


      Did your mummy not hug you enough?

      It would explain the anger.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Funnily enough...

        The first poster isn't too out of the realms of possibility, kind of... I remember fitting out a building with Eizo 21" CRT monitors (many years ago) they all came with a special Eizo branded screen cloth (basically a lens cloth) and instructions that said something along the lines of "don't ever use alcohol to clean this screen." The alcohol would smear the chemical anti-glare layer and generally make the brand new grands-worth of monitor look rather kack.

        Dispite a large note posted on each monitor warning them against using alcohol screen wipes, guess what the first thing people did was?

  2. Oli 1

    Not a rumour

    I've used one, at a preview evening for the iPad a while back in London.

    Not a Mac fan tho, so meh

  3. Richard Cartledge

    Not interested

    Why flail one's arms about to do something one can do with the fingertips?

    1. ThomH

      The arguments would probably be...

      (1) touch allows direct manipulation; people prefer direct manipulation because it's one or two fewer metaphors depending on how you count — no 'if you move the mouse, the cursor follows, the cursor can be used to press buttons', just press the button;

      (2) touch allows multiple people to interact with the device simultaneously;

      (3) touch opens up new types of interaction and simplifies others.

      The only obvious things I can think of for (3) are page layout and clay-style modelling. I'm completely on the fence about the idea, myself. I can see it being useful in design industries where you frequently want people to be able to gather round something and work together, but I can't see it being useful in the slightest to a writer, a musician or a programmer. Just thought I'd post such arguments in favour as I can muster.

      1. digstar

        and the answer is...

        this is excellent for a muscian, lovely control interfaces a plenty tied directly into your DAW on a big 27inch touchscreen ? Awesome.

      2. Hile

        Obvious things to do with this...

        The tilted horizontal layout would be perfect for many music applications as well, see for example screenshots of ableton live if you don't know these things.

        Usually the music applications are controlled by external, physical controllers, but I don't even remember how many times my hand has gone to touch the screen from a midi controller when I needed to push something which was not assigned to MIDI. I guess knobs and sliders would be still better with physical controller, but buttons, scrolling, or drawing waveforms might be more intuitive on-screen.

      3. Michael C

        much more use for touch

        My wife has a MBP. iPhoto and iMovie are a practical joy to use with the giant multi-touch pad. Manipulation of images is so frigging simple. In fact, I've gotten so used to the track pad on the mac, I now really hate using the touch pad on my own notebook (I'm constantly trying to use mac gestures on a simple track pad and its infuriating why it can't do the same). Simple things like a simple gesture to rotate the photo, a quick squeeze to zoom and crop, tap tap tap to set color filtering or effects, tap to confirm identified faces, swipe to the next photo, all without touching a mouse or keyboard. Doing that onscreen would be even simpler and faster. If I could touch the photos directly (as I see done on iPads), this would even more drive home the experience.

        I could equally see the same for web site manipulation, doing research, working with complex documents and presentations, managing your in-box, and more. Yea, a keyboard still very much required for text input (I'm not willing to sacrifice pixels, nor the feel), but having a keyboard close and being able to touch manipulate physical objects goes a long way in the every day tasks I do. The majority of file management is moving something from one place to another, even managing the OS itself.

        Detail work still requires the accuracy of a mouse and text input isn't a simply gesture system you still need a keyboard (a quick keyboard for a quick e-mail is handy, but I'd not type post this on a virtual keyboard). I'd still prefer keystrokes for working in excel and databases as well. But, lets face it, how much of what you do daily, unless you're an artist, designer, inputting large volumes of text, would not be quicker and easier in a touch UI (especially if apple's other patent regarding having the OS change the UI based on screen orientation from a full blown OS to a streamlines touch focused system is becomes a reality).

  4. Pet Peeve

    Needs banana icon

    Gorilla arm still applies. I can't see them making this a standard feature.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    <titlestart> <titleend>

    I've just taken my hands off my mouse/ keyboard and attempted to touch the (24") screen. About 9 inches short so if I were to buy one of these magical devices I would have to move the screen closer. Which would probably result in eyestrain.

    But then I'm not a successful producer of consumer electronics with a devoted fanbase so I'm probably wrong.

  6. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Thankfully these are only on home machines

    I don't think touch screen displays will catch on in the office. This is due to the amount of people who touch screens to point to something on the screen, can imagine the mayhem as someone does that and points to a delete button, pressing it accidentally and losing all your work.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Touch screens in an office (particularly a hotdesking office) represent a fantastic vector for transmission of many viral or bacterial nasties.

      1. Michael C

        likely not

        compared to the keyboard and mouse you have to use instead, the screen should be significantly less prone to spreading infection.

        Touch screens, by nature of getting grimy with fingerprints, are frequently cleaned. Keyboards, mouse? it's been a loooong time...

        That siad, i do believe very few people in an office require (or would benefit from efficiency improvements) of a touch UI. Touch makes management of massive amounts of things easier, but has little or no impact on direct generic job efficincy (think call center, secretary, generic office supervisor). Touch is really fantastic for working with images, complex document creation, anything that can be tabled and worked on with hands and real materials translates well to touch, data entry not so much... Maybe 5-10% of office personal would see a real benefit from a touch UI. (granted, that's the 5-10% who might also benefit from using a Mac, not to say almost every desktop especially in call centers could be replaced by one, but there's no appreciable gain doing so).

  7. The Other Steve

    But why ?

    Like any other desktop UI, OS X is entirely designed around the use of a pointer and a keyboard. There is no reason to suppose that Apple are stupid enough to think that they can simply add a touch screen and get satisfactory UX. They avoided making this mistake already, while watching the MS tablet experience hammer the point home.

    Then again, there are bits of OS Xs UX that are spectacularly painful already, so who knows ?

  8. P. Lee
    Thumb Up

    Embedded iOS?

    You have an army of devs who know how to do touchscreen apps for iPhone/ipad. The interface is well-known by lots of people and fairly intuitive.

    Why not create a large-screen version for kiosk-type use? No messy keyboard/mouse required. Airport check-ins anyone?

    My kids have a big-screen (whiteboard) version of this at school. They register their attendence by moving an icon of themselves from one side of the board to the other, with their fingers. Frivolous perhaps, but cool nonetheless.

    1. h 6
      Jobs Halo

      Another rumor

      Another rumor is that the multi-touch iMac will be dual mode MacOS and iOS for regular and touch mode. I think multi-touch will be in the next MacOS as well as dual mode touchy iMacs.

      1. Michael C


        It was a patent! Actually, it wasn't dual iOS/OS X btw, but OS X took on "aspects" of iOS (and could emulate iOS applications), but it did not in fact run to separate OS. More importantly, when switching from OS X to iOS, applications (like pages or keynote as examples) could detect this and themselves seamlessly orient to their more touch friendly versions removing options and buttons that make little sense in a touch UI and semalessly shift back to their full version, without impact to the file or relaunching apps, simply by changing the orientation of the device.

        very smart patent idea. Very much looking forward to seeing OS 10.7 or 10.8 and the new iLife and iWork apps do this.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    If you have to ask, you can't afford it ...

    Anyone want to take any bets on how much a capacitive 1920x1080 (or whatever) touchscreen is going to cost? Vague answers such as "a metric shitload" will not be accepted ... you can bet that even by Apple's standards, this isn't going to be cheap.

    Hopefully they'll resist the temptation to put iOS on it - there's an epic fail in the making if they do.

    Still, it'll give the other manufacturers a bandwagon to jump on - rather like they did when Apple started putting those horrible chiclet-style keyboards on their laptops.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We all seem to have forgotten...

    this story published in these hallowed pages ( and linked to at the bottom of the article, which does beg the question; how many of you actually read the articles properly?

  11. Mike Flugennock
    Thumb Down

    Touchscreen Mac? M'eh.

    Mind you, I'm what some people here would call a MacOS "fanboy", but, still... based on my experience with the touchscreen interface on the in-seat interactive video system aboard the Airbus 340 -- namely, piss-awful -- all I can say is "no thanks, Steve".

    @ P. Lee, re: Embedded IOS: Based on my experience with airport self-check-in kiosks, I'd be more concerned with improving the interface design and response times, and with the fact that any slight bit of money their airlines save by not having live ticket agents at the counter is eaten up by having live airline employees on hand to help passengers figure out the self-check-in system, and deal with the machines when they go south (which, in my experience, has been about 90% of the time).

  12. Bear Features


    This is TOTALLY amazing! Apple inventing touchscreen computers! First the itablet/pad, and now this! Wow, awesome. I've never seen anything like it! Rent-a-crowd will be there at midnight.

    Still no HDMI though right? Still no Blu-Ray though right? But anything it doesn't have 'fanbois' yelp that not only do they not need it, they don't want it! Can I dual boot into Windows 7 still and use the touch screen capabilities it already has? *cough*

    Apple are just great! Spent years bashing Windows yet bent over backwards to make sure you can install it on their machines. ;o)

    1. Michael C

      thanks troll

      First off, I'm no fanboi, i run Win 7 and several different Linux OS on a custom PC at home...

      That said, on a MBP, dual booting or using parallels to concurrently boot, the majority of Mac Specific hardware functions, including gestures and that lovely touch pad, are present when running Windows on mac hardware. Apple added the requisite drivers in boot camp thanks.

      HDMI? no, Display Port thanks. It's a PC, not a TV. An adapter is $6 to convert to HDMI if you actually need to hook up to a TV, but DisplayPort supports higher color and resolutions and is superior to HDMI in most every comparison. We care about more than 1080p thanks. Having both DP and HDMI is redundant. Also, DP is both an input and output, without requiring separate connections, and I can hook a BR player right up to an iMac (directly). Note on the HTPCs apple makes, HDMI is standard, on computers DP is standard. This is the industry direction. HDMI is only for TVs and fully compatible with DP output. Most video cards sold have DP ports and VGA/DVI, very few continue to have HDMI. (they ship with an adapter)

      As for BR, short of on my TV, I really don't want it. In fact, currently I don't have one at all and see no reason to get one anytime soon. Physical media is not worth it in most cases if digital copies are available. It's not worth exporting BR media to files for playback when i can get those files online anytime i want. Why waste the expense in hardware and complexity? BR media is virtually useless for backups, ridiculously expensive and not worth making copies (its cheaper to buy the media legally), and I can get digital versions of most movies online in HD (again legally) for less than I pay for the BR disk. Explain why exactly I need a player I have no use for that i can do the same thing with cheaper in other ways? Adding BR to a PC is a nightmare of complexity.

      Look at how many Dells and HPs come with them, but CAN'T DECODE OR PLAY HDCP CONTENT! Its a media player for encoded formats only, pretty much useless since in 2011 most video will start coming out with the HDCP flag turned on... Some few PCs truly support BR media, but to do it, HDCP has to be preserved at every step, which means the player, SATA controller, chip-set, video card ,and TV/monitor ALL have to support it. That means name brand chipsets, dedicated GPUs, and certified HDCP pathways. 90% of the machines sold with BR players do NOT meet this guideline. Apple refuses to join that party, and doing it right is not only expensive in design, its expensive in royalties, and for the estimated 5% who will use it, all of who could get by doing the same thing without it.

      1. Renato
        Jobs Halo

        Re: thanks troll

        And why would Apple bundle its machines with Blu-Ray players if in the future they can sell the same 1080p movie via its own store? (or now, I don't know iTMS at all as they don't have a store down here in Brazil)

        And why BR for storage if you can have an external HDD/SSD with so much more capacity? Even flash drives today have their 64GB.

  13. Rob Davis

    Multi-touch Macs inevitable. Hybrids: iOS4 and MacOS X, x86-ARM to run all App store apps alongside the patents and rumours suggest.

    iOS and MacOS X co-existing on such machines would provide a vast already installed base of multi-touch aware applications from the App store.

    The iOS/ARM CPU-based AppStore applications would run via a software emulator, emulator technology being something Apple have vast experience of with Rosetta.

    x86-ARM hybrid CPUs might start to appear, allowing hardware support for iOS-MacOS coexistence to allow Apple subnotebooks to run full MacOS at performance with hotswitching between that and iOS running on the ARM part of the chip to conserve battery life.

    Android-Windows combos might also benefit from such hybrid CPUs for same reason. Another benefit is that on x86 native OS and apps mode the ARM could assist with GPU acceleration or audio DSP.

    iOS could well become Apple's main dominant OS, assisted by ARMs roadmap for high performance chips and 64bit computing.

    It's all speculation though.

  14. RichD


    Seems an ergonomic FAIL to me, have the screen comfortable for your arms/hands and you're bending your neck to look down at it. Have it at the right height for looking at it, and you have to lift your arms up to operate it. Not for me, guys.

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