Craig Federighi Doesn’t See a Touchscreen Mac in the Future

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After taking on hosting duties for most of Monday’s WWDC keynote, Apple SVP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, sat down with Wired Tuesday for a wide-ranging interview covering the future of Mac and iOS apps, Apple’s iOS-to-Mac app porting tools, and universal multiplatform apps. Of particular interest however, considering its absence from the keynote, was Mac hardware, specifically touchscreens.

Apple’s announcement that it will start porting some of its own iOS apps to the Mac this year and allow third party developers to do the same next year unsurprisingly generated speculation about future Macs with touchscreens. The Windows-based PC ecosystem long ago introduced touchscreens for both laptops and desktops, but thus far no official Mac has adopted that interface.

no touchscreen macbook

When asked if the appearance of iOS apps on the Mac would naturally be followed by the introduction of touchscreen-capable Macs, Federighi showed little enthusiasm, telling Wired‘s Lauren Goode that he’s “not into touchscreens” and doesn’t find the “experiments” with touchscreens in the Windows world compelling.

We really feel that the ergonomics of using a Mac are that your hands are rested on a surface, and that lifting your arm up to poke a screen is a pretty fatiguing thing to do. I don’t think we’ve looked at any of the other guys to date and said, how fast can we get there?

Federighi’s point about hands being rested on a surface while using a laptop mirror Apple’s justification for the introduction of the Touch Bar in 2016. However, the Touch Bar’s actual value has proven to be controversial (as, too, has the only product on which the Touch Bar is available). So it seems that Apple may not be any closer than the Windows-based touchscreen “experiments” to determining the next big leap in interfacing with traditional computing devices.

macbook pro touch bar

But regardless of whether your current or future Mac has a touchscreen, you should have no problem running apps that have been properly ported to the Mac. Federighi explained during the keynote that Apple is expanding its UIKit and related tools to help developers create logical and useful analogs for interacting with a touchscreen-based app via a keyboard, trackpad, and mouse. Those familiar with running Android emulators on their PCs and Macs know that the process of using a mouse or trackpad to emulate touchscreen input is already relatively robust, so Apple’s continued work on the process, coupled with a year’s time, should reveal positive results.

7 Comments Add a comment

  1. JonGl

    That’s a shame, because the touch screen on my Surface has spoiled me. It’s not like something you have to use for everything, but it’s lovely to have as an option. It doesn’t need to replace a trackpad, but it is a nice supplement.

  2. FCompton

    I have had trouble coming up with reasons I might use a touchscreen. Most of my work is text based. I can use keyboard shortcuts to do most everything, so outside of emulating the physical motion of say, marking up a photo or document, I’d love to see a list of what people actually do with a touchscreen computer (excluding tablets & phones). I begrudge even having to reach for the mouse to accomplish anything, much less having to reach up and touch the screen. Most of the commercials I remember seeing have focused on the “mark-up” aspect or the manipulation of physical images on the screen; things that I often do with my iPad, especially when connected to a projector; but then that is kind of what the iPad was built for.

    • JonGl

      My biggest use is for scrolling windows, mainly in the browser, but other places as well. Also, when watching a video, it is much faster and simpler to just touch the video to pause it, rather than finding the trackpad, mouse pointer, and jiggle it to make the controls appear, and then, finally click the pause button or however it works (depends on the site–but most sites seem to work with touch right on the video to pause). But that’s not all. Switching apps is useful via touch. And any time my hands aren’t directly on the keyboard, it is often simpler to just touch the screen vs. positioning my hands either on the keyboard or on the trackpad. Also, like with my wife’s MacBook, she has it on her desk or lap, and it would be so much simpler to just touch rather than try to show her where to click. (with her permission–like on her iPad).

      There are just so many little things where touch comes in handy. If one is not used to it, and if one has deeply-ingrained habits, it can be difficult to see the benefit of something new, but just because it seems to have no value to such a person doesn’t mean that others would not find it of great value. I think Apple is just trying to be stubborn, simply because they were convinced, and their mea culpa was the touch bar, which is a failure, IMO. It would have been simpler, long term, to just give us what we wanted–a touch screen. 😉

  3. keenerlab

    They don’t want a touchscreen Mac? Fine by me.

    All I really want is an iMac with Apple Pencil support, and a stand that allows you to move it forward like a drafting table. It’d make my illustration/design life a whole lot easier, and I wouldn’t have to rely on an iMac-priced Wacom Cintiq, nor would I have to rely on Astropad.

  4. CudaBoy

    Touchbar was Apple being dumb. What Apple will copy is Asus’ cool touchscreen trackpad – which is what the Touchbar should’ve been. 🖥

  5. BobbyDig

    Sorry folks, but the Windows Touch Screen really hasn’t really hasn’t taken off. Outside of the Adobe Creative Suite and MS Office, what developers are killing it on Windows? This is MS again trying to play catch up to Apple and Google. Developers are not going to again, re-write apps for another OS.

    I do have to give MS credit for finally trying something new. I guess that’s what you do when you are behind.

    BTW: If Windows ever developers a phone, what’s that Development Platform going to look like?

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