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Apple Releases Magic Trackpad

Apple Releases Magic Trackpad

Apple's Magic Trackpad On Tuesday, Apple announced the release of a peculiar little peripheral: the Magic Trackpad. The smooth glassed surface touchpad is, essentially, a disembodied version of the trackpad that’s included on the latest Macbooks. The Magic Trackpad, which sits at a slight angle, just like Apple’s Bluetooth keyboard, brings all of the wow-worthy gestures—including pinching, swiping, rotating, scrolling and, of course, clicking—to desktop Macintoshes. While the Magic Trackpad is certainly novel, few journalists have gone as far as sounding the death knell for the mouse. For many, the precision and intuitiveness of a mouse, replete with physical buttons and the almighty scroll wheel, leaves little room for improvement.
But if the Magic Trackpad doesn’t supplant the tried and true mouse, which niche does it fill? In a sense, the Magic Trackpad most easily falls into the middle ground between touchscreen and the usual desktop interfaces. Years ago, touchscreens were presumed to be the next big thing. However, after the spiff and glitz of early touchscreens wore off, users found that the physical strain of repeatedly lifting up their arm and poking at a screen quickly offset any usability perks. Dubbed “gorilla arm,” the failure of vertical touchscreens has become a cautionary tale for failing to consider how seemingly sexy technology will perform in the real world.
Now, touchscreens have seen a more logical revival in smartphone and tablet software. The iPhone has proven the viability of a well-engineered touchscreen and the iPad is currently testing the waters for larger scale applications. The multi-touch gestures recognized by the iPad, including one-, two- and three-fingered swipes and other complex gestures beyond the simply swipe and click, are touted as some of the devices most groundbreaking features. And now, this functionality is available for desktops. For this reason, the Magic Trackpad may garner a strong following among those who are more accustomed to mobile input devices. Given that more and more users are eschewing full-sized desktops for laptops and handheld devices altogether, this subset of users could be poised for growth.
There are a number of users who won’t likely make the switch. The Magic Trackpad, while compatible with Windows machines, doesn’t have quite the same functionality on a PC. And for gaming and other applications which demand high precision mousing, a trackpad is a step backwards. But the classes of computer users are stratified enough that the Magic Trackpad could just catch on.
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