Feeling the Machine

I had a quick play with the Force Touch Trackpad on the updated 13" MacBook Pro the other day and it's really quite astonishing and it's going to freak you out a bit and it's clearly signalling the way for user interfaces going forward and it's going to be nuts when it's on the new MacBook next month.

Kyle Vanhemert at Wired sums up the story really well and coins a great phrase, 'bumpy pixels' which describes where we're going with this in the near future.

In a nutshell though, it's achieving the clear feeling of physical feedback to your fingers without there being any actual physical movement of the trackpad. Or it's me, in the middle of the Regent Street Apple Store, grinning like an idiot, holding up the MacBook Pro, trying to square the fact that though my brain is telling me I'm physically pushing a metal panel, my eyes are clearly showing me that nothing is moving at all.

It's going to have an impact across all sorts of software with iMovie already updated to incorporate some haptic feedback - edit snapping and reaching the end of clips will give you a little tap to the finger. Developers will have a field-day with all this and it'll be even more crazy with the slimmer design of the new MacBook (I imagine it feeling like you're pushing right through the body of the machine). 

John Gruber with Serenity Caldwell touch on this on The Talk Show this week, with a discussion around the implications for Accessibility that I hadn't even thought about.

We're entering a whole new world of interaction with the metal and glass we have around us - and with the Apple Watch the feeling of intimacy and humanity of the devices will only increase.

Exciting stuff.



Andy Lee