Apple patent hints at touch-screen desktop

— 9:13 AM on August 24, 2010

Is some convergence underway between the iPad and Apple's iMac desktop computers? A patent filing spotted by AppleInsider certainly suggest so. The filing, which was published in January, describes "transitioning between modes of input" on a device that supports both mouse and touch interfaces—and the illustration almost hints at an iMac successor:

Transitioning between a high-resolution input mode, such as a mouse-based interface, and a low-resolution input mode, such as a touch-based interface, is described. A change of orientation of a touch screen between a first orientation and a second orientation is detected. Transitioning between the two input modes and corresponding user interfaces (UIs) is based on the detected change of orientation. . . . Transitioning from one mode to another can include modifying an item displayed in the UI of the one mode into a corresponding item displayed in the UI of the other mode. The modifying can include enlarging/reducing, obscuring/unobscuring, moving, etc. For example, an item can be obscured by the visual effect of sliding it off of the screen.

AppleInsider points out that the patent application also provides an example with a notebook. Convertible laptops are, of course, nothing new, so that's not quite as exciting.

If Apple adds touch input to the iMac, it wouldn't be the first with an all-in-one, multi-touch desktop. HP has been selling its TouchSmart PCs for a while now. Swiveling the screen into a more touch-friendly position sounds like a useful innovation, though, as does a "smart" transition between mouse- and touch-friendly user interfaces. We'll just have to see whether Apple actually does anything with this patent.

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