“It’s obvious and easy enough to slap a touchscreen on a piece of hardware, but is that a good experience? We believe no”, said Craig Federighi, Apple’s then Head of Software in 2014.
Things have changed, but only slightly. Apple’s thinking is that its platforms should complement, support and boost each other. Apple’s recently released (and rather brilliant) GarageBand update is a fantastic example of how deeply this thinking goes.
Continuity is critical, of course. At its simplest this means you can begin tasks on one Apple device and finish them on others, with different platforms offering different advantages.
Small acorns, big Apples
That’s cool, but a far humbler feature I think shows off just how well Apple can make its platforms work together. This is a little known thing in which a Mac user can get the GarageBand Help files they need for the project they are working on on their computer to display on their iPad. It makes such sense that I believe every Mac app should be able to do the same thing – iCloud, sync and control of the software and the hardware enables Apple to deliver these kinds of integrated experiences.
In future I can also imagine Apple rolling in similar tech to the popular Mobile Mouse app, available here, which lets you use an iOS app as a keyboard and mouse for your Mac. It is possible to modify your Mac so it offers a touch sensitive display using simple and affordable kits. Museums use these for their public displays.
The future integration between Apple’s platforms doesn’t mean the platforms will merge. A Mac will always be the best tool for some jobs, just like an iPad may be better for others, but together they’ll offer the best of both worlds without any the design compromises you find in the current crop of hybrid devices, which lack the logical and philosophical foundations Apple is attempting to build.
The built in redundancy of existing attempts to merge mobile and PC platforms isn’t completely visible yet, and Microsoft clearly didn’t recognize it when it ran its recent ads in an attempt to reignite the Mac vs. Windows wars. Those ads tell us about Cortana and touch on the PC and tries to say Apple can’t match these features on the Mac.
That’s not true. You can already sketch on Force Touch Macs using the Inklet app and when it arrives Siri on the Mac will offer everything you get from the Voice Assistant on an iPhone with all the added resources of Spotlight. And if you really want a touchscreen Mac, you have those kits from Troll Touch.
What Microsoft forgets to mention in its ads is that with its tiny share of the mobile market, it can’t offer the combined and complementary platform experience Apple already provides. That is because Windows users generally use a PC and an Android or Apple smartphone. In this context, Surface is a compromises while Continuity is a solution.
With this advantage, Apple doesn’t need to introduce a MultiTouch Mac. It already offers one. It’s called an iPad. You use your computers for other stuff, use devices together where it makes sense to get things done. Because no one really needs a touch sensitive truck, not when you look below the surface.
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