Years ago, when Steve Jobs decided that mice needed only one button, Apple had a problem. While Mac users were busy clicking on things all over the screen, PCs added a second button, the right click, in order add a second layer of interaction, a feature that eventually forced Cupertino’s hand and created the control-click. Even as mice added button after button and trackpads still featured right clicks, Apple kept on keeping on with a single, monolithic trackpad. Until today. Today, it seems, is the day that Jobs’ one-button vision is being finally realized.
Phil Schiller’s description of Force Touch was pretty nerdy. Essentially, instead of adding a pivoting sheet of glass, the company created a system that enables variable resistance for each click. That means you can either tap the touchpad or give it a harder press in order to bring up the functions that were usually associated with the right-click. While it’s not clear whether Force Touch actually brings up the control-click menu, it’s an important addition to the MacBook mythos.
In addition to the sensors, the tactile feedback adds even more human-computer interaction to the process of clicking on the screen. While none of this is particularly exciting to non-Macheads, it’s clear that the Jobs Mission is still top-of-mind at Apple, an important consideration as the company moves into the next decade.