New Mac Touch Patent Surfaces, Shows User Interface Manipulation by Touch

Jun 9, 2011 - 7 Comments

A new Mac Touch Patent

A new patent for what looks like a touch screen Mac has surfaced hot off the heals of the extended Mac OS X Lion and iOS 5 demos at WWDC (PS: watch the keynote if you haven’t already, it’s a great walkthrough of both new OS’s).

This patent is a clear indicator that Apple is at least exploring the possibility of bringing touch screens to the Mac platform, or at least to a desktop OS that is more advanced than iOS. The discovery was made by PatentlyApple, who suggests that “with OS X Lion slowly adding iOS features, we may one day see such a system emerge” as fully touch capable touch screen Mac.

Diagrams from the approved patent clearly show a user interface and file system similar to that in Mac OS X that is being manipulated by touch:

Touch Mac Interface patent

This is not the first touch screen Mac patent to be granted to Apple. Last year, patents for a touch screen MacBook and a very interesting hybrid iMac touch that ran both iOS and Mac OS X concurrently appeared, both indications that Apple is exploring the realm of touch far beyond just the new gestures in Mac OS X Lion.

Is the distant future of the Mac platform touch based? I think there will be an inevitable inclusion of touch screens into the Mac lineup in some form down the road, but it’s hard to know how that will come to fruition. Will it be a culmination of the wide variety of ideas shown in Apple patents, or something unique entirely? Time will tell.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac, Mac OS


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  1. […] and several other touchscreen Mac patents have been awarded to Apple, ranging from general a Mac-like touch UI to full blown touchscreen MacBooks. Patents don’t necessarily mean any such imminent product, […]

  2. Darius says:

    i think that when technologies will be able to put a lot of power in such a small thing like ipad we will see an ipad with os x, and it could happen in the near future

    • Mike says:

      Came here to post this. I could see using an Ipad to handle the on screen movement, gestures, clicks, virtual keyboard, etc.

  3. Bryan Forrest says:

    Vertical touchscreens are great for kiosk based information booths where the interaction is a few minutes or less. However, the longer you stand or sit with your arm outstretched to touch a screen, the more difficult it becomes. It’s a case of ergonomics. Steve has said as much in previous interviews and presentations. A touchscreen iMac has its place, but not on the typical user’s desktop.

  4. bOrg says:

    I predict hybrid Mac iOS machines in a few years, it is inevitable. It doesn’t mean the Mac will loser it’s power, it means iOS will be more powerful.

  5. Sue Dunham says:

    I certainly don’t want greasy finger marks all over my screen. What a dumb idea.

  6. Nick says:

    Apple has a lot of patents for stuff that they never end up doing – it seems like they just take the better safe than sorry approach and just patent everything as they think of it.

    I don’t think we’ll ever see something like this on the Mac. Steve Jobs himself has said at the “Back to the Mac” presentation that they looked into this in the past and found it was not feasible – “touch surfaces want to be horizontal”. And he’s insisted many times that the flaw with other touch computers in the past has been that they try to use a desktop OS for something that should be tailor made to fingers. That’s why they have the iPad and iOS.

    We’ll see I guess, but my bet is this won’t ever come to fruition. And I think it’s for the better.

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