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

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.

Comments closed
    • Thorburn
    • 11 years ago

    I once had to demo a 24″ HP Touchscreen All-in-One at a trade show.

    Everyone ooooh’d and aaaah’d at it and several said they would be putting in orders.

    They shouldn’t, there is nothing fun about moving things around by dragging your finger across 2 foot of glass – the resistance you build up is shocking – and ergonomically its fine if you’re standing with it on a tall bench, but sitting down, leaning forward and reaching out is not going to be pleasant.

    • burntham77
    • 11 years ago

    Show me a Mac with some AMD hardware inside, and I’ll think about it.

    • Glycerin
    • 11 years ago

    Doesn’t matter to me, as I use real PCs and not Macintosh’s.

      • burntham77
      • 11 years ago

      They are all personal computers.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 11 years ago

        Obviously iMacs are aluminum lunch boxes that got run over by a school bus and a UI painted onto them.

    • ssway
    • 11 years ago

    Someone’s going to make a fortune on selling fingerprint smeared glass cleaning monkeys. Now Apple can soak all their glass displays in nano-particle polymers. Nature and our fingers rejoice at the thought of absorbing them as they wear away.

    • Trymor
    • 11 years ago

    We need a ‘contraption’ that reflects an image of the vertical screen down on a flat, glass iTouch ™ ‘capacitive digitizer’ using something similar to teleprompter reflecting eqipment. Said ‘cd’ should also contain optical storage tech that is read by the video unit, allowing you to take your computing ‘session’ with you wherever you go.

    • dpaus
    • 11 years ago

    Do you have any frikken’ idea how sore your shoulder is going to be?!!? This only makes sense if the screen is horizontal in front of you (which gives a whole new interpretation to “desktop” – anyone remember the CEO’s desk in the original TRON?)

      • Skrying
      • 11 years ago

      Should click on that patent application link.

        • indeego
        • 11 years ago

        Your shoulder will be sore in that position as wellg{<.<}g

          • Skrying
          • 11 years ago

          Yes, but significantly less so. I personally don’t see touch screen on desktop computers to be a full time input method. Instead a bit of extra on top of the mouse and keyboard.

        • dpaus
        • 11 years ago

        yes, I looked at it first time – and thought the same thing then

    • 5150
    • 11 years ago

    OMG HERE IS ALL MUY MUNNIES APPLL!

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 11 years ago

    Yuck. Apple, please don’t do this. The iMacs on campus already have /[

      • BoBzeBuilder
      • 11 years ago

      iMacs at my campus suck. The white plastic is dirty as f#k, the keyboard/mice are half broken. Definitely something you wouldn’t put up for public use, given how flimsy and unreliable they are.

        • internetsandman
        • 11 years ago

        If the iMacs at my high school were anything to go by, it’s not the quality of the keyboards and mice that were the problem, it’s all the idiotic vandals that screw around with the systems and break everything on them.

          • lilbuddhaman
          • 11 years ago

          who would ever vandalize a mac at a school ? Certainly not anyone who reads this site, certainly not.

    • sjl
    • 11 years ago

    It’s conceivable. After all, the underpinnings of Mac OS X and iOS are one and the same; it’s the user interface aspects that differ.

    I’m not convinced that Apple would make a step like this without telling developers well in advance, though; the interface elements for a 20″ traditional desktop display are different to those for a 20″ touch screen display (think of just how well your finger would be able to pick out elements that are 20 pixels – or half a centimetre – tall, and you’ll get the idea.) Although I guess they could just throw it out there with their own apps optimised for the cross-interface design, and let other application developers catch up in their own time.

    We’ll see.

      • blastdoor
      • 11 years ago

      I bet the computer operates in two pretty distinct modes — OSX mode and iOS mode. The OSX mode would be when the computer is in vertical orientation and work with mouse/keyboard and limited (if any) touch. Switch to horizontal orientation and it switches to iOS mode — primarily multitouch, limited keyboard, no mouse (think iPad). So the developers who will need to get ready for it are iPad developers, not Mac developers. It should be easy enough for iPad developers to get their apps up and running in a hurry.

      I guess my biggest question here is timing. I can believe that Apple has received “samples” for prototype iMacs, but I’m skeptical that these will be in the next revision of the iMac. I bet we don’t see this until OS 10.7, with a major feature of OS 10.7 being the addition of an iOS interface mode.

        • sjl
        • 11 years ago

        I don’t buy your reasoning – at least, not all the way. Why buy a 20″ touchscreen iMac if the only apps you can use on it are iPad apps (presumably recompiled for Intel rather than ARM)? You might as well save your money and buy an iPad. It’ll only be an effective design if the same apps you use in traditional desktop mode also work, and work well, in touchscreen mode – in other words, developers need to create “hybrid” applications that either work well in /[

    • blastdoor
    • 11 years ago

    I think the only way this makes sense is if the computer automatically switches into an iOS-like mode when moving into the horizontal configuration, meaning that you basically stop interacting with traditional MacOS X programs and the MacOSX interface when the computer is in that orientation. So it would be kind of like going into Dashboard or FrontRow.

    It will be a little tricky to make it work, but I think it’s conceivable that a new class of apps could be developed that would make good use of a 20+ inch touch screen. And yes, this is definitely one of those cases where “if anyone can do it, Apple can”

    • Thrashdog
    • 11 years ago

    Sintek? Somebody call HardCorps…

      • burntham77
      • 11 years ago

      Well played.

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