There has been speculation that Apple would be bringing the touchscreen technology found in its iOS devices to its computers for several years. Now it seems that Apple has indeed been looking at doing so. A patent application published today by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office deals with touchscreen controls for various software functions.
According to the application, published by Patently Apple, Apple is seeking a patent for an on-screen knob/slider hybrid that could be manipulated by the user with either a mouse or a finger. The kind of control interface detailed would replace the more traditional knobs and sliders found in the GUI’s of a variety of video and audio editing applications.
It’s important to point out that this does not mean that Apple is working on integrating touchscreens into its computers. In fact, the patent here is highly specialized. However, the fact that the control interface the application describes is compatible with a touchscreen does suggest that Apple is at least exploring the possibility.
One of the most amazing features of the original iPhone when it first launched in 2007 was its multitouch display. The technology was so revolutionary, in fact, that Google rushed to incorporate it into their fledgling Android operating system, which had previously been geared towards a BlackBerry-like smartphone design. Almost as soon as the iPhone released, speculation began that Apple would incorporate touchscreens into their computers. The release of the iPad three years later only fueled these rumors. Steve Jobs, however, famously and repeatedly said that computers were not a good platform for touchscreens. The angle at which we view a computer screen, he said, made interacting with a touchscreen awkward.
Nevertheless, it could well be that Apple does have plans to develop an iMac Touch or (more likely) MacBook Touch line. At this point we will just have to wait and see.