Apple’s New $129 Trackpad Brings Force Touch To The iMac

In addition to the new Retina display iMacs, announced today, Apple has updated its line of core accessories for the computer — touting “all-new” Bluetooth keyboard, mouse and trackpad peripherals.

The new keyboard and mouse are bundled with the new iMacs, as well as sold separately by Apple, while the trackpad is an optional extra for iMac buyers (costing $129).

The Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2 have been redesigned to include built-in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries — so users can’t be tempted to feed in disposable batteries to keep their interface gizmos juiced. Apple is also touting a “more solid internal structure”, whatever that means, and “quality feel”.

The new Magic Trackpad 2 is most notable as it brings Apple’s Force Touch interface mechanism to its desktop hardware for the first time. The company added a Force Touch trackpad to the Retina MacBook Pro back in March. (It has also now of course enabled a more fully featured version — which it calls ‘3D Touch’ — on its latest iPhone models.)

The Force Touch feature is finally filtering down to iMac users — at least those who are willing to pay Apple’s accessory toll.

The space-saving Force Touch tech replaces the mechanical click mechanism Apple used in previous trackpads with a software-defined, user-controlled ‘click’ effect designed to mimic a physical and tactile sensation — with haptic feedback and micro-vibrations simulating movement.

As with Force Touch on other Apple devices, the feature gives iMac users access to a range of new, pressure-sensitive UI interactions, such as the ability to do a quick look up of a word, preview a file or bring up a map from an address.

The new Trackpad also has an increased surface area (29 per cent large, says Apple).

On the keyboard and mouse front, the new wireless Apple keyboard has been squeezed into a slightly a smaller package — which it claims takes up 13 per cent less space on your desktop (thanks to factors such as a new “scissor mechanism” for keys, and a lower profile). While the new Magic Mouse 2 is touted as “lighter, sturdier” and has had its base tweaked for “a smoother glide”.

All the accessories pair automatically with their mother Mac hardware once they are plugged in via the Lightning-to-USB charging cable. Apple says each peripheral can last “about a month or more” on a full charge.