It also opens up the entire issue of the UI having to be appropriate for a touch interface.
Agreed, which is my guess about why MacOS still hasn’t gone down that route.
Microsoft is a slow learner, but it took them multiple iterations to start getting touch interfaces that actually feel good. Many would argue they’re still not there.
My feeling on that realm is that touch is an enhancement. It’s not meant to replace your keyboard/mouse in most cases, just to augment them. So I don’t mind an interface where touch only feels good half the time, because I’m only using it for specific tasks.
Just off the top of my head, some specific cases where I like using touch are:
- Panning/scrolling a document: not a huge issue, but when you use gestures on a trackpad, you have to subconsciously convert distances between your finger motion and the effect on screen. Touch removes “sensitivity” from the equation, so you can pan very quickly without thinking about mappings.
- Multi-user sessions: When I’m demoing something or have someone standing over my shoulder, it’s less obtrusive for them to reach over and select something. If I’m giving someone directions, I can give the screen a quick tap without stealing their mouse, which lets both of us feel like we’re in control.
- Web interfaces: With more apps moving to the web, it’s worth noting that touch actually is accessible on the web. Websites don’t really take advantage of mousepad gestures (and certainly they won’t take advantage of the touch bar). But since mobile is eating the world, many sites have good touch interactions.
- Quickly interacting with the screen: If I sit down at a computer and want to pause a video, I don’t have to do that waggly thing where you figure out where your mouse cursor is. I just reach out and tap the screen real quick. As an added bonus, this lets me instantly position my cursor wherever I want when I first sit down, which is nice if you have a lot of real estate to get lost in.
- And of course, experimental stuff: multitouch interfaces where you don’t want to look away from the screen; Apple’s mixers and electronic keyboards. Truth be told, this is where touch gets advertised the most, and honestly it doesn’t get a lot of use. But very rarely, I’ll build or use something that I couldn’t do with just a mouse.
I’m ignoring the obvious stylus support because its mostly artists using that. I will say that the first time you open a PDF from an email, fill it out quickly with a stylus, and then just email it back — that feels magical. No printers involved.
But mostly it’s the tiny details. Every once in a while, I’ll be doing something and I stop thinking about the interface or the mouse sensitivity or what window is selected and I just reach out and tap something. Those tiny moments of just interacting directly with content are when its really nice.