So Apple And Microsoft Finally Solved How To Bring Touch Screens To PCs

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Looking at Microsoft’s new (and first) all-in-one desktop and Apple’s new MacBook, the dueling touch interfaces become immediately apparent. The people I’ve seen on twitter seem to be making fun of Apple’s new touch bar, but I’m just glad we’re finally starting to move beyond just turning the monitor into a touch screen.

On one end we’ve got Microsoft apparently advertising the Surface Studio as being mostly for content creators (a main reason people still use PCs). You transform the desktop to basically turn the monitor into a 28″ iPad. If I was still into drawing (that’s a whole other story), I might be all over that. In the other corner Apple has the new MacBook Pro that’s basically trying to replace the function keys with that bar that always appears on top of your keyboard on the iPhone or iPad. It already looks like Adobe has figured out good uses for this and I could also probably think of a few. Overall, I think we’re finally starting to see the advantages of touch screens brought over to desktops the right way.

I for one never liked desktops or laptops with touch screen monitors. In 2010 Steve Jobs said he didn’t like them, and I agree on why. When I got this laptop I specifically looked for one that didn’t have a touch screen. Every time I’ve tried to use a touch screen in conjunction with a keyboard I’ve hated it.

The first reason is because it just isn’t comfortable. “Touch surfaces don’t want to be vertical,” Jobs said. Reaching up there to touch your monitor just isn’t as comfortable as touching something below your head. The other reason is that my arm often obscures my vision since I’m reaching to touch something right in front of me. Mobile touch interfaces have already been designed around that problem. That along with the whole Windows 8 interface just gave me the impression Microsoft was turning the desktop into a mobile interface because mobile was trendy (and to exercise greater control over Windows software).

I’m starting to think this is why Nintendo gave the DS two screens. Somewhere in the design process Shigeru Miyamoto and the gang probably figured out that turning the screen facing the user vertically into a touch screen was uncomfortable, so they gave the system a whole other horizontally-facing screen to handle all the touch functionality. Apple’s new MacBook is the same principle but to a lesser degree.

I’m probably not going to need either of these new computers — though it might be cool if the touch bar found its way to other PCs and keyboards in the future, but I just think it’s nice that designers are thinking about what components of mobile really would benefit PCs without compromising PCs.

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