Mac OS X 10.7 to be more Touch Orientated? [Back to the Mac]

Back to the Mac

The line between iOS and OS X is set to get more blurred if some of us are reading between the lines the right way. The two operating systems are becoming far closer than cousins.

Apple today announced a “Back to the Mac” event to be held on October 20th at 10am Pacific Time at Apple’s Town Hall building. At that event we are promised a sneak peek at Mac OS X 10.7.

There are rumours that we may see new Apple hardware, and an update to Apple’s iLife suite for their desktop computers.

Part of the reason for this event is to show that Apple is still very committed to its desktop computers. Something people have been critical of Apple for in recent months. Saying they seem to have forgotten their roots with the success of iOS, the iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad. Another facet of this event is no doubt to showcase new and upcoming products, but there may be another angle to this announcement.

Many people think that apart from enhancements to 10.7 to make it work even more seamlessly with our mobile devices, an updated GUI, and the usual major core OS enhancements, we may see some signs of touch style interfaces for new Mac computers which will be set to launch around the time OS X 10.7 (Lion) ships.

These methods of interfacing to the OS may ultimately be via a computers screen. But initially it may be more of a push towards large touch pads as a replacement for the mouse. But the step from touch pad to screen is a simple one.

The guys over at 9to5Mac cited the following quote from The New York Times, and it’s worth reflecting on what Steve Jobs had to say in 2007:

“Indeed, many of the new features in the Leopard operating system version are incremental improvements. But Mr. Jobs said he was struck by the success of the multitouch interface that is at the heart of the iPhone version of the OS X. This allows a user to touch the screen at more than one point to zoom in on a portion of a photo, for example.”

“People don’t understand that we’ve invented a new class of interface,” he said.

He contrasted it with stylus interfaces, like the approach Microsoft took with its tablet computer. That interface is not so different from what most computers have been using since the mid-1980s.

In contrast, Mr. Jobs said that multitouch drastically simplified the process of controlling a computer.”

The traditional desktop computer and the WIMP (Window, Icon, Menu, Pointing Device) User Interface we use is going through something of a mid-life crisis at the moment. It is time for a change!

If Apple can extend the success of its iOS multi-touch based operating system to its desktop computers, they will have indeed created a “new class of interface”. Hardware that will sell like hotcakes because there is a need to have the new hardware to use a desktop operating system that now has a finger centric interface. Something that is fresh and new, but that is familiar in many ways to some 100 Million existing iOS users.

Ultimately our computers will be more like our iPad. And OS X 10.7 may be one step closer to that.

What do you think we’ll see from Apple in OS X 10.7? Have your say in the comments…

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