Apple Magic Trackpad

So Apple has just announced a giant trackpad titled the Magic Trackpad. It supports a full set of gestures; two-finger scrolling, pinching to zoom, rotating your fingertips, tapping is clicking, and so on—you get the idea. Of course it looks amazing because its an Apple product, but I question its practicality among designers/photographers. I get that Apple is trying to push technology into a more physically interactive realm but would you actually use this in replace of your mouse or tablet?

Personally I don’t think I could make the switch. I for one hate the trackpad for lack of control and use a mouse whenever possible. I think if I were to change my setup at all, I would probably have to add a tablet or purchase one of the new 12-Core MacPro’s.

43 Comments Leave A Comment


Alex Burner says:

July 27, 2010 at 9:55 am

I definitely agree that the track pad isn’t useful for practical applications like Photoshop or Illustrator, there’s too much finesse required and a lot of functionality tied to the click event.

However, I think a giant trackpad will revolutionize (or at least greatly enhance) casual computing. Scrolling through documents, pictures, and websites will be twice as easy. As soon as I have a nice chunk of disposable income I’ll snatch one of these up to upgrade my couch potato habit field.

Same price as a magic mouse? Gotta have it.


Brennan says:

July 27, 2010 at 10:13 am

I can see it be useful as a secondary control surface. If it could be used to scale/rotate/scrub with the left hand (for a righty), I think it’d be great. It could also be useful for tool switching in PS/AI/ID. Three finger swipe down = marquee tool, three fingers up = move tool. Maybe even as a modifier, one finger hold = command, two finger hold = option, three finger hold = shift.

As a standard pointing tool, I can’t imagine that I’d like it. But if it could be used in conjunction with a mouse, I think it’d be super nice.


Gideon says:

July 27, 2010 at 10:27 am

That Apple has improved trackpads is undeniable, even to the point that I don’t need a mouse most of the time, which would have been untrue three years ago. I’ve never been much good at controlling a mouse with a lot of finesse though, and I much prefer a tablet for any kind of work that requires really tight control I’d much prefer to use a tablet.


Will says:

July 27, 2010 at 10:41 am

It’s definitely going to find a home on my desk as an addition, as opposed to a replacement . I couldn’t see this thing making it into any of my production workflow. It would be great for navigating through the web, the OS, and other everyday mundane tasks. Who knows, humans seem to be able to adapt to some pretty odd concepts, so I wouldn’t be overly surprised if it DID sneak it’s way into production tasks… eventually. I also see this thing as another small step to the future of computer interaction. Before you know it we’ll be hitting full on gesture control. Minority Report here we come.


Derek says:

July 27, 2010 at 11:05 am

This will only affect people that buy Apple product because it says Apple on it. Or for people that are used to using a laptop as their primary computing device. Judging by the scale of the hand in relation to the product it’s not big enough to do anything. It’s maybe 2x the size of the MBP trackpad. Big deal.

Not that trackpads are bad. I’ve replaced my mouse with the Wacom Bamboo Touch (I have really bad carpal tunnel and Apple’s mice make it worse). I absolutely love using the Bamboo Touch as a mouse replacement. I have limited issues with design/development software. Most of the time I can switch to the pen when I’m in Photoshop or Illustrator and I’m fine. But the Wacom tablets have quite a bit more space to work with. And all the gestures are created with a driver and don’t use the OS multi touch or gestures so if I’m smart enough I could expand on adding my own gestures. They’ve also got the resolution and sensitivity of the Intous3 which is more than enough for me.

Apple isn’t doing impressive design anymore. Especially when it comes to ergonomics. I just threw out my Magic Mouse. Complete piece of crap. I was literally in unbearable physical pain within ten minutes.

@ Will, Oblong (the guys who designed the interface for minority report’s computers) is already doing proper gesture interfaces with computer vision and camera tracking.


josh says:

July 27, 2010 at 11:30 am

I have used the trackpad (macbook pro) in photoshop and illustrator without too much trouble. It’s not as if a mouse gives a great amount of finesse either. But as Alex said, for many other task it is awesome.


Francesco says:

July 27, 2010 at 11:33 am

I got so much used to my macbook pro’s touchpad, that I find it more comfortable than any mouse. I’ve also added some gestures with jtouch that make it almost irreplaceable. So, if one day I’ll buy a desktop computer, I’d rather use it with a touchpad-like device then a mouse.
In effect, people find it strange that I make all of my works with a touchpad, but I find it so natural…


Crispy says:

July 27, 2010 at 11:53 am

I love the trackpad on my MBP for everything other than precise design work. I’m most excited about this for live music gigs, when my laptop is on a stand or set intentionally aside.


Will says:

July 27, 2010 at 12:32 pm

@Derek Yeah, I saw their presentation at FITC Toronto this year. Really amazing stuff. They made a lot of good points to get the world off of mice. Really compelling stuff, even if it was just a huge G-Speak ad. I really hope the mainstream picks up on it.


Phontsolo says:

July 27, 2010 at 12:42 pm

It’s cool like most Apple products are but i would never use it. Although the track pad on my MacBook Pro is great as a designer I prefer a mouse. What i would consider is a tablet integrated into the MacBook Pro’s. Might be small-ish but might be cool!!


Scott says:

July 27, 2010 at 1:08 pm

I love the trackpad on my MBP, but only because it’s good “for a laptop”. If I have the option of a mouse, of course. I can only see this as a secondary device for macros and stuff.

Anyways, I was more excited about this than anything:


Jeremy Brooks says:

July 27, 2010 at 1:15 pm

I could see this easily complimenting a mouse. On my MBP, I use a wireless mouse in conjunction with the built-in touchpad. Now I can use the same setup on my iMac.


m says:

July 27, 2010 at 1:31 pm

with more and more programs using touch and gestures to control them perhaps its apples way of future proofing their desktop machines?


Chris says:

July 27, 2010 at 1:34 pm

I would like to see if they have any ergonomic research to show that can help with Carpal Tunnel. Then I would consider it.

The biggest thing I see wrong with it is that it is big. I don’t like things taking up space on my desk.


frank says:

July 27, 2010 at 1:38 pm

What on earth? The only point of a trackpad is if you don’t have room for a mouse. I don’t get it.


NAVIS says:

July 27, 2010 at 1:55 pm

I’m a mouse user till the day I die. I’m a lefty but I use a mouse with my right hand and it feels like I’m holding a pencil. I owned a Wacom Intuos 3. Never enjoyed using it. I can’t imagine this thing being any better. Essentially it would just turn my iMac into mutant laptop. And as far as editing photos goes and what not, I could never use a trackpad of any sorts to edit someone’s face.

It’s a cool idea and I like that Apple is exploring new products. And as people have said, as a secondary device, this could be charming.


David says:

July 27, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Well it will be interesting for the newer generation of young aspiring designers when they start using tools like this. For them its just as hard starting off with a mouse as it would be with a trackpad.

It’s all just a learning curve if you ask me. Once you become trained to use something you are familiar with, you wouldn’t really have the limits one might think of when using a device such as this. Think of someone that uses a left handed mouse, or a Wacom tablet for all their computing… Just a different experience that can execute the same results.


Bobby Chombo says:

July 27, 2010 at 4:13 pm

I would definitely use this product. At the very least I would trial it against the magic mouse, which I have used a little bit and liked, but I also found that the shaping of my hand when using the mouse was not particularly conducive to taking advantage of the advanced feature set. Worth noting that although I do some graphic work, I’m predominantly a music-based computer user…


thehalvo says:

July 27, 2010 at 4:38 pm

I’m stoked about it, just bought it. I’ve been waiting for apple to do this for awhile. I love my mackbook pro trackpad but I also want to use a wireless keyboard (using both at the same time is a little pointless). I’ve honestly got a little board with the old mouse.


Sean says:

July 27, 2010 at 5:08 pm

I totally agree. When I saw this on the web today I was totally impressed with it’s coolness, but I think I’ll stick with the mighty mouse. I will look forward to trying out the magic trackpad on my next Apple store visit.

Has anyone used the magic mouse? I’ve contemplated getting one several times.


Melissa says:

July 27, 2010 at 6:09 pm

I don’t think I would use it. For me its really annoying having to use de trackpad on a notebook when I’m working on Photoshop…I like the design it has, but I think it would be popular just around people who love having this cool Mac “last” tecnologie stuff in their office…


Brennan says:

July 27, 2010 at 6:24 pm

I might try it as a left hand gesture tool, but never as a replacement for my mouse.

The first thing I do when I use a laptop is get a USB mouse to plug in, I can’t stand those little ones used solely as a mouse control.

But, as said above, for shortcuts and gesturing it would be great (I’m still waiting for desktop browsers to get scrolling physics a la ipad/iphone.)


Shelby says:

July 27, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Brennan—now we’re getting somewhere. Coupling this oversize trackpad with an iPhone to play games…

On second thought, I might as well get an iPad.


frank says:

July 27, 2010 at 6:39 pm

“Well it will be interesting for the newer generation of young aspiring designers when they start using tools like this. For them its just as hard starting off with a mouse as it would be with a trackpad.”

Don’t kids use mice from birth these days? My kid has. I’ve used a mouse since junior high and I’m old.

“Once you become trained to use something you are familiar with, you wouldn’t really have the limits one might think of when using a device such as this.”

There are certain inescapable limits though. Such as the lack of resolution and not being pixel accurate.


proem says:

July 27, 2010 at 6:59 pm

2 things:
1) this is nothing new. they acquired the tech from a product ive been using for the last five years as my primary pointing device (and it rocks. if you see one on ebay get it)
2) if you dont dig the track pad… try one with a pen and gestures I’ve been using one of those for the past 6 months with relatively ease.

long story short:
Mice are retarded… track pads are less retarded. glad you could catch up apple ;)


John says:

July 27, 2010 at 8:34 pm

As a photographer: Maybe? I actually borrowed a friend’s tablet, and it was absolutely amazing to use when dodging and burning in Lightroom. Kick in some music, veil my head and the monitor under a dark clothe, and just work an image. I could do it for hours, especially with that tablet, so maybe the same thing could be implemented here.


Chris says:

July 27, 2010 at 10:11 pm

A high hz and high dpi mouse cannot be matched with a track pad. Even the best quality track pads have too much ‘give’ for my tastes. The correlation of action isn’t quite there. For instance, any small movement on my mouse creates a response on screen. I have to be very slow and methodical to create a single pixel movement. This is mostly because a mouse is much less capable of subtlety compared to a finger. But you need that sort of ‘adapter’ to properly interface with a digital device in my opinion.

This is definitely a cool concept and I love the gesture controls on my trackpad, but my finger is not a very good adaptation of what is actually happening on screen. If they combined this with the option of pressure sensitivity and a stylus, I’d be all in.


gil says:

July 28, 2010 at 5:51 am

I wonder if this is another step in the dichotomy of creation vs consumption oriented hardware. (IANAdesigner) I get along fine with a trackpad at home for the 2-3 hours a day I use my laptop for purely personal things, but at work, especially with a lot of screen real estate, the precision of a mouse is crucial.

I could imagine the trackpad for gross, gui-based actions but use of command line for things like moving, copying, and deleting hundreds of files at a time.


Brennan says:

July 28, 2010 at 6:51 am

Shelby–Yes, yes you should.

Actually, I don’t mean to hijack the topic, but an ipad app that turns it’s lovely surface into this sort of product would be great. My ipad docks there to my left anyway, so I might as well use the desk real estate for something useful (again, left handed gesture controlling photoshop etc…)

Hmmm, might be on to something there!


Eric says:

July 28, 2010 at 7:19 am

I would love trying this out on my couch with my MBP plugged into my television. Apple remote is too lacking in functionality to really jump around from 5′-10′ away.

Can’t see using it for work but as a way to jump between Hulu, Plex, Safari without getting up is pretty appealing. Typing would still be an issue but for straight media consumption this could be super-handy.


ron says:

July 28, 2010 at 12:03 pm

when i got a laptop the first thing i did was also buy a mouse for it. trackpads are awful, especially for scrolling.


Jefta says:

July 28, 2010 at 1:00 pm

i absolutly LOVE my trackpad on my macbookpro, and when in workstation mode, i often take my hand from either mouse or keyboard to go for 3 or 4 finger swipes. i even play counterstrike with it. So i cant wait to try it out, see if i still love it.


Dan says:

July 29, 2010 at 3:40 am

@ #33, actually, scrolling on a MBP trackpad is easier and more responsive than a mouse with a scroll wheel thanks to gestures.

I would definately buy one of these, after using my mbp trackpad for so long a mouse just seems clunky. I prefer doing logic/ableton work on a trackpad.


Shane says:

July 29, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Down with the clickety click of an ancient mouse. Up with the Trackpad -AND- Wacom Tablet. Two great products together. It works perfect for me.


Oni says:

July 30, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Just got one today- love it! Super functional and aesthetically pleasing.
Cheers to u and Apple! ;-)


Vito says:

July 31, 2010 at 6:31 am

I love the idea of the track pad. But If you take the long view, I think they are getting us ready for the “mac tablet pro” just one touch screen with the power and portability of a Macbook pro.


Jay Williams says:

August 4, 2010 at 8:09 am

I personally think something like this would work great for browsing the web on the couch in front of a big HD TV. But for my Mac Pro, I definitely prefer a mouse.


Leif says:

August 5, 2010 at 12:42 am

I run my macbook through an LG LED projector for video, this would be a great addition for couch surfing, currently use my iphone as a trackpad, but that is a wifi connection. The multi-touch track pad is what finally got me to buy another Mac after I switched to PC while I waited for the intel os x transition to go by. Now if it only worked proper with windows.