Make no mistake, the days of the mouse are numbered, and I for one will not miss them one incy, wincy, teeny, weeny little bit. Okay, to be fair, the mouse has actually advanced personal computing incomprehensibly – after all, it ushered in the graphical user interface (GUI) and without that, computers would never have fallen into the hands of mere mortals.
But me, I’m sick of my mouse. Aside from such joys as inoperable trackballs and laggy movements, the mouse is responsible for something else that drives me up the wall – RSI. At the end of each day my hand is aching and my fingers are incapable of moving slowly… They can only snap from one position to the other.
There are of course plenty of issues to iron out if touchscreens are to take over the world. It’s pretty obvious you won’t be able to simply replace your existing monitor and stay seated, tapping away all day – your arms would drop off after a week! But that shouldn’t be a roadblock. We just need to rethink how we work. Standing isn’t such a bad thing (were we really designed to slump into a chair all day?).
When he tired of official reports and memoranda and minutes, he would plug his foolscap-sized Newspad into the ship’s information circuit and scan the latest reports from Earth. One by one he would conjure up the world’s major electronic papers. -Excerpt from 2001: A Space Odyssey
You could be forgiven for thinking that last week’s announcement from Apple was just about another new product… A bigger iPod Touch. Apple were quick to position the device as a netbook alternative but not something you’d want to replace a full-fledged computer with. But their recreation of the iWork applications proved that the tablet format is capable of much more than just surfing the web and checking emails. Touchscreens could actually become the successor to the mouse. Now the iPad wasn’t the first tablet on the scene by any stretch of the imagination, but it is the first that looked like you’d want to use it. It’s the first that’s been properly designed for touching with your fingers, as opposed to a Stylus which is really just a pen in disguise. No, pens aren’t the answer. There’s a disconnect between holding a mouse or a pen and watching the screen that is simply not there with touch. There’s no mindgap. The curser is elevated from that pixelated white pointing glove into a real human hand – your own!
So the launch of the iPad last week got me dreaming of the day I can throw my mouse away and unpack a whopping, great, big, black box with an Apple logo on the side that says “30 inch iPad”. Perhaps it’ll be called a Mac Pad, or a Mac Touch, who knows… But I want one before my fingers fall off at the knuckles.
For more interesting blog posts, articles and opinion on the iPad and touch-based computing in general, these are some of the more interesting ones I’ve read in the last few days:
- Removing Features (brilliant read)
- I need to talk to you about computers. (again, excellent)
- In praise of the iPad: A contrarian view – The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)
- Editorial: Engadget on the Apple iPad
- iPhone-to-iPad development: How’s the timing going to work out?
- Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001 Newspad finally arrives, nine years late