This isn’t a rumor, it’s just a wish. I’m hoping that the Apple Tablet that is announced tomorrow will have a capacitive touch interface that extends past the screen and to the actual case. Particularly the back of the device where the fingers will naturally rest during two-handed use.
Touch interfaces are something I’m sort of obsessed with. Like most people, the iPhone was what really opened my eyes to what it could do. I was one of the first individuals to actually buy a Microsoft Surface computer, happily paying $17k, including delivery and warranty. And I joyfully tested the Microsoft TouchWall, and still beg them to actually ship that OS and touch kit. I’ve also bought at least one of just about every touch computer out there, just to see how they perform.
Touch is awesome as a user input mechanism. But there are problems. One problem is that it doesn’t work well at all on machines sitting on a desktop because of arm fatigue.
Another problem, that also affects laptop and mobile devices, is the simple fact that you have to block part of the screen from your eyes while you touch it. It’s a real problem for a number of applications, particularly gaming. Touch is great, but blocking the screen isn’t.
That’s why I’ve obsessed over the 10/GUI concept and hope that something very similar to it comes to desktop computing soon. There’s touch, just not on the screen.
The Apple Magic Mouse is a variation on this, giving users a capacitive touch interface on the top of their mouse. My work efficiency increased dramatically when I started using that mouse, and I’ll never go back.
There are rumors that the next iPhone will have a capacitive touch case. That’s great for the iPhone, but there’s a far more compelling use case for a tablet to have a capacitive touch case. That’s because when you hold it you’ll naturally put your palms on the side edges of the front and wrap your hands around the back. And where your fingers touch the case is a really awesome place to put capacitive touch.
Lots has been said about the supposedly amazing way people will interact with the Apple Tablet. And while the new gestures look to be pretty awesome, that still doesn’t address the problem of blocking the screen with touch, or having to move your hands to do basic navigation like scrolling and clicking.
If I was building the tablet, I’d include touch on the case as well as the screen. Has Apple done that? We’ll find out soon.