updated 02:40 pm EDT, Thu July 10, 2008
Apple Touch Desktop Patent
Apple has been exploring technology that would let it implement a touchscreen interface for its full-size computers, according to new US Patent Office filings. The company has developed methods that would let users edit music, photos, and videos simply by making natural gestures based on controls with analogies to the real world: a DJ could add record scratch effects and mix tracks by turning the records themselves, while a video editor could scrub through clips by dragging along the timeline and a photo tool could use a virtual scroll wheel to quickly flip through photos.
The company also describes general navigation that appears directly connected to Mac OS X. Users would be able to slide their fingers to navigate the Dock and could open contextual menus, which are often difficult to implement using touchscreens, by tapping a second finger when on top of a menu item. It would also be possible to drag and drop items in Apple's implementation.
The patents, which were originally filed just weeks before the original iPhone launch, don't necessarily indicate that Apple will implement the particular interface for its desktops or notebooks. However, the illustrations mimic a Mac OS X interface and have appeared at a time when analysts and observers are anticipating a tablet device from Apple in addition to multi-touch Mac screens within the next few years.