Actually, let’s stop there for a second. Are we all clear on why rumors are to be considered flighty, unpredictable things that are not to be trusted, like pixies, fairies, and Ruby developers? Sure, these days you can expect your Marks Gurman, your Mings-Chi Kuo to have a reasonably high success rate. But back when the Macalope was a young buck, Apple rumors were a real crap shoot. And not the dice game, either. They were like going out to the field and shooting cow patties. Just an absolute mess and nothing was gained.
Throughout the late ‘90s, there were rumors of a set-top box. “It was real!” they’d say. “Apple is working on it!” It probably was, but this was something the company wouldn’t ship for another 10 years.
The moral of the story: Don’t trust rumors, they’ll only hurt you.
Now, let’s take some rumors at face value. You’re not the boss of me, Macalope from 15 seconds ago.
Man, that guy. I tell ya.
According to the aforementioned Gurman, Apple will soon “defy long-held company orthodoxy” and add touch screens to Macs. Yes, Apple has famously decried touchscreen desktop computers in the past as an ergonomic nightmare, but let’s face it: the company has said any number of things that it later reversed course on. It said “If you see a stylus, they blew it,” then shipped the Apple Pencil. It said professional laptops only need USB-C connectors, then shipped new MacBook Pros with MagSafe, HDMI, and an SD card slot. It said its “sweet solution” for developing apps for iOS was web apps then unveiled the App Store. It showed us the glory that is Bob Mansfield, then it let him retire.
An iMac with a touch screen might be an ergonomic nightmare, but a MacBook with one is not anymore so than an iPad with a keyboard attached to it and that is to say not very much of one.
By making the iPhone and the iPad, Apple popularized touch-based computing long before Microsoft brought it to Windows 8. And rather than bolt a touch interface onto its desktop operating system, Apple has slowly assembled the pieces of the puzzle.
It remains to be seen whether or it can assemble this puzzle into something that’s coherent. Stage Manager, which could be Apple’s answer to app switching on a Mac via touch, can be a frustrating experience. Meanwhile, there is currently any number of touch targets on the Mac that are too small for fingers to accurately hit. Imagine trying to close a window rather than resizing it or minimizing it. Now imagine trying to do that with hooves. Rather than just making all the controls bigger, Apple might be able to use the same kind of control highlighting the cursor on iPadOS does; target with your finger and release when the appropriate control is selected.
Why not just make all the controls bigger?! Sure, why not waste screen real estate? Why not put “Powered by M2” stickers on your Mac, too, while you’re at it? Do you even hear yourself talking, Steve?
As maddening as the new System Setting app may be, it starts to make sense when you consider a touch-enabled macOS. What doesn’t make sense is having a mix of switch controls and checkboxes. macOS Ventura is an awkward middle stage that the Macalope wishes Apple could have avoided.
However the company plans to solve the problem–assuming it even is really shipping touch-enabled Macs–it should try to avoid how Windows attempts to serve two masters, touch and mouse, neither of them well. Large targets use up too much screen space, and dual modes of input are maddening. The problem means having to re-think input on the desktop. Apple’s certainly capable of doing that, as long as it takes the time. With Ventura, the signals of how well they’re going to pull this off are a little mixed.