Industry gossip hints touch-screen iMac might be on the way


— 4:04 PM on October 1, 2010

Will Apple's next iMacs really boast touch screens? That patent application we saw in August certainly suggested so, but it was hardly confirmation—Apple has all kinds of wacky patents under its belt, after all. A recent story by DigiTimes makes the possibility seem much likelier, though.

DigiTimes reports that Sintek Photronics has sent Apple "samples of projected capacitive touch panels" for the next iMac. The article adds that Sintek is using a new technology to develop touch-screen panels, which involves integration of the touch sensor and glass. By contrast, DigiTimes says conventional touch screens are made with three separate layers: LCD panel, touch sensors, and cover glass.

Aside from that nugget of information about Sintek, the report doesn't say much about what the next-gen iMacs might look like. The patent application was pretty specific, though; it said the machines could switch between a high-res, mouse-based input mode and a lower-res, touch-based interface depending on the orientation. That would imply some sort of convergence between Mac OS X and iOS—or at least the addition of an iOS-like touch UI to OS X.

Touch-screens work great on slates and phones, but I've never been particularly excited about the concept of a touch-screen desktop PC. Even if the display could be put in a comfortable position, mice and touchpads just seem like much better ways to interact with a full-featured computer, especially if one needs to do real work. I wouldn't put it past Apple to whip up a compelling, desktop touch interface, though.

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