Operating systems

Apple's next big innovation: The iMac Touch?

The popularity of Apple iOS on the iPad and smaller devices and the stalwart OS X on iMacs and MacBooks might lead to a combination of the two. New patents provide some intriguing clues as to what might be Apple's next big idea.

The blog Patently Apple, which tries to stay ahead of everyone else in figuring out what Apple is up to next, claims to have verified patents, first filed in Europe, that illustrate how Apple will transition from OS X to iOS -- on the same machine:

Imagine having an iMac on your desktop one minute and a gigantic iPad the next. Imagine playing iGames on this dream machine - Wow! Imagine reading a double-page book on this - Unbelievable! Apple takes the mystery out of how OS X could finally co-exist with iOS on a Mac and you've got to see this one to believe it.

Clearly, they are pretty excited about it, and ZDNet's Jason O'Grady has this to say:

iOS was designed for smaller devices like the iPhone, iPod and iPad where the emphasis is on battery life. Mac OS X was designed for larger devices, with different input methods (keyboards, mice and trackpads) and an emphasis on the speed and capacity of processor, disk and memory. Two divergent goals.

It would seem that the patents that have just come to light could be Apple's answer to that divergence -- just bring the OSs together. Check out the illustration below and see what you think of this possibility. Here is a link to the actual patent.

Click image for larger view.

See the related gallery, which includes all the drawings and excerpts from the patent application.

About

Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

16 comments
CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

At home and work my monitor is at least 30" inches from me. That's a good foot beyond my outstretched fingers. Someone mentioned a 27" monitor. I don't want something that large within fingertip reach, looming over me.

Joanne Lowery
Joanne Lowery

Two problems I see. A: the OSH implications of leaving your hand hovering in the air while trying to touch screen area will aggrevate carpel tunnel issues. B: If the patent is for a mount exactly as shown then pressing on the lower screen area risks unbalancing the monitor towards the user. The pivot point at the rear of the monitor needs to be lower at the back so that the weight is carried correctly on the foot.

NexS
NexS

That I am in such a heavy state of dislike with Apple: "Imagine having an iMac on your desktop one minute and a gigantic iPad the next. Imagine playing iGames on this dream machine - Wow! Imagine reading a double-page book on this - Unbelievable! Apple takes the mystery out of how OS X could finally co-exist with iOS on a Mac and you?ve got to see this one to believe it"

vdesilva
vdesilva

... that people who see holes in any product are the technologists. Fortunately it is the ordinary man(and woman for PC purposes, it would be people if we were in Macworld) on the street who see beyond the fatal flaws and uses technology by the bucket load, and keeps all the on-belivers aka technologists in hock by giving them something to do. I use to be a technologist and I saw the light or was it an electron ...

NexS
NexS

That you prefer to write on, file and search through papers? I see holes in all platforms of software. My problem lies, not in the software(well, it does, but you get the idea), not in the hardware, but in the attitude which the developers, salespersons and fanboy/girls hold so dearly.

demitchell
demitchell

What a concept! I wonder what hurdles Apple would have to overcome to make this one work? I am now an iPad owner and a very happy one.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

So what took Apple so long? "Touch" capabilities are available in Windows 7 [with the right hardware].

GeoffMichael
GeoffMichael

The article is about a potential product, not about Apple versus Windows.

yobtaf
yobtaf

I'm focused now.

yobtaf
yobtaf

Touch" capabilities are available in Windows 7 [with the right hardware]. Whoopie-doo! The PC manufacturers have sure done a lot with this capability,

vdesilva
vdesilva

Windows and Windows family have had many things ... ... WRONG. Apple seem to manage motivated people to actualise technology

dean
dean

kids, gamers, casual users, lots of possibilities where IOS & OSX share the same screen. At work ? I spend considerable company time & money getting our systems ergonomically optimized -- often to quite specific user situations & needs. Our younger folks seem to bend themselves to any alignment they find, & muddle through without complaint. That's until their first bout with painful necks, shoulders, backs... carpal tunnel precursor symptoms... Then they get religion about optimal ergonomics, & often discover the difference between good & unacceptable is surprisingly small. The patent drawing is likely very far off from any finished product; but one look tells me this mashup of display & input surface will have to be a lot thinner than any iMac in existence if it's going to be very useful for touch input. Also, the mount will need to offer far greater flexibility for positioning the display in the right place, at the right angle & azimuth for the user to read & input via touch. I don't doubt Apple can market their idea; but they've got a lot more work to do, if such a system will be successful beyond the education market & a few vertical markets where the touch input is used for simple, limited input tasks. Like many Apple concepts this one could be great if they get the details right. If anyone can get this done, I'd bet on Apple.

.Martin.
.Martin.

this will get (especially the display model in shops)

MikeGall
MikeGall

But a 27" screen should mitigate it. A part of the screen could be dedicated to the input and the rest for viewing. For example I could see the dock being great for a touch interface. I suspect these devices would still be capable of taking keyboard input. Keyboards are still more tactile/fast at handling input than a touch screen IMHO. No motion feedback sucks. Can you imagine a full sized keyboard that you couldn't put your fingers on home row but had to keep your hands raised all the time you're typing?

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