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.
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.
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.