Apple Everywhere

The Next iMac: Touchscreen, Tablet Style, 3D, or What?

- 2010.06.28 - Tip Jar

Well, the rumors are flying. Supposedly, the iMac is going to get a refresh soon, and that refresh will be multitouch enabled. Whether that means it'll have a touchscreen or just an "Apple Magic Trackpad" is yet to be seen. Personally, I have a few ideas (most of which are not exclusively mine) about what the new iMac will look like.

A Really Big iPad

As ludicrous as it sounds, I could see a very, very wide, touch-enabled screen that sits slightly inclined, like a keyboard, on your desk, taking up as much room as your standard iMac + Apple Wireless Keyboard + Magic Mouse layout. It would have a moveable virtual keyboard, support Mac OS X and iOS, and could support additional peripherals via Bluetooth, WiFi, etc. Needless to say, the optical drive arrangement would stay the same, but the USB, FireWire, Ethernet, and AC ports would move to the sides.

Those of you who watched Star Trek: The Next Generation should remember what the helms looked like on the Enterprise. This iMac concept should look something like that - tilted forward enough to be visible and to save desk surface area, but not so far forward as to make it uncomfortable to type on.

iMac G4 Revived?

The iMac G4
The 20" iMac G4

I love the iMac G4. It's just plain cute. Not sexy - cute. It has a unique flair and personality about it that no other computer has ever had (or likely ever will).

Apple could revive the design of the iMac G4 (with sharper angles, a thinner display, and integrated speakers - all in unibody aluminum, of course). By utilizing the oh-so-ergonomic display design, touchscreen computing could be made quite comfortable. And cute.

Magic Trackpad

Another, less imaginative concept is that of a traditional iMac with an Apple Magic Trackpad (which has yet to be announced by Steve Jobs and Company). The major problem with this is that the iOS interface wouldn't be nearly as intuitive on a trackpad as it is on a touchscreen. It could be done, but I don't think it would catch on unless Apple introduced some really big apps to take advantage of it.

Of course, Apple's always got something up its sleeve, so if Apple put its engineering minds to it, I'm sure Apple could make it work. I personally don't see how, but that's the beauty of Apple - they're always full of surprises.

Not Gonna Happen

Then there's the idea of just putting a touchscreen in an Intel iMac. I've noticed myself trying to tap on the screen of an iMac right after using my iPad, so I know the muscle memory is there. The question is, "would it be capable enough to kill off the mouse?"

Especially a mouse as pretty as the Magic Mouse?

My gut instinct tells me no. It could supplement the mouse, but as it stands right now (unless we're all in for some big interface surprise with Mac OS X 10.7), it just wouldn't work.

For one, I find myself almost touching the Dock and the lower part of the screen. Never the upper part. There's a reason for that: I don't like reaching above eye level to use a computer. If I were in the space shuttle and my life depended on flipping a switch above my head, sure, I would do that. But reaching above eye level to use an all-in-one desktop computer - that's just not right.

The Holographic Mac of the Future

Now, this is a really long shot, but given the current 3D rage, it wouldn't surprise me if Apple has been working on some holographic 3D Mac this whole time (but better than the rest of the crowd, of course). If you could wave your hand into a projection, giving you multiple levels of multitouch - that would be something I could see Apple developing.

Well, maybe.

We're in for Something Special

When Apple updates the iMac line, I'm sure we're in for something special. Since its introduction in 1998, the iMac has been the popular desktop Macintosh, the one that sets the trend for the rest. From the 15" Bondi Blue to the flat panel G4, from the polycarbonate 17" and 20" G5 to the unibody 27" Intel Core i7 quad, the iMac has defined each successive generation of Apple products, and any update it receives will be passed on to the rest.

Personally, I'm hoping the next iMac will be a really big iPad. If that is the case, I think MacBooks would start looking like Microsoft's Courier tablet, the Mac mini would get some sort of Microsoft Kinect-style sensor, and the Mac Pro....

Now, what would they do with the Mac Pro? LEM

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Austin Leeds is a Mac and iPad user - and a college student in Iowa.

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