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Apple's New Trackpad

Wednesday, 22nd October 2008

When Apple first introduced the buttonless Apple Pro Mouse in 2000, I was skeptical. Although I prefer multi-button mice, for a one-button mouse the previous ADB Mouse II was pretty awesome, and I wasn't sure just how a buttonless mouse would work, and I had also never used an optical mouse.

Within about 30 seconds I was completely comfortable with the new mouse. When you lift it up, the optical sensor loses focus and stops tracking almost exactly the way a ball stops rolling. The grips on the sides, which are exactly where I normally hold a mouse, allow you to easily hold the “button” down when you pick the mouse up, so you can drag something a long distance. It's a totally different design, but it feels very similar, and totally natural.

Apple has done it again. From what I read on the Web, it wasn't clear exactly how the trackpad in Apple's new Macbook and Macbook Pro laptops works, so I stopped by an Apple Store to see for myself. I'm very impressed.

The entire surface of the trackpad is a button, just like the entire surface of the Apple Pro Mouse is a button. It's hinged at the top, so the lower part of it clicks like a button. You can mash it with your thumb, just like you can mash the button on Apple's previous trackpads with your thumb, and it works great. The only thing that feels different at all is when you're sliding your finger down (to move the mouse pointer toward the bottom of the screen), and instead of hitting the edge of the button, you can just keep going all the way down.

I didn't have a chance to play with all the multi-finger gestures, but I did notice that if you lift your hand and click the button with two fingers (instead of using your thumb), it registers as a right-click. A few other combinations are available as well, that I didn't have time to play with.

In short, there's nothing not to like. At least about the new trackpad, that is—there are a few other things not to like about the new machines, but you've probably heard about those already.


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