After 34 years of Apple-brand pointing devices, you can sum up Apple’s input philosophy as thus: Stubborn simplicity. With only a few exceptions, Apple’s mice and trackpads have been minimalistic and easy to use. Frequently, they stir up widely-imitated changes in the industry. And more than once, Apple went with a design that proved to be too radical, inciting the ire of even the Apple faithful. In the slides ahead, we’ll take a look at over three decades of Apple pointing device designs from 1979 to the present. Even for Apple veterans, a few of them may surprise you. Click here for part 1.
USB Mouse (1998)
In 1998, Apple launched the iMac with a radically redesigned pointing device. The USB Mouse (commonly referred to as the “puck mouse”) abandoned the ADB standard for the Universal Serial Bus (USB) – a first for Apple. The translucent circular mouse received high marks for visual design but low marks for ergonomic comfort, making it Apple’s least popular mouse design to date.
Pro Mouse (2000), Apple Mouse (2003)
After years of criticism for its one-button mouse designs, Apple responded in July 2000 by releasing a “no-button” mouse, the Pro Mouse. To be sure, one could still physically click the Pro Mouse, but the entire top of the mouse cantilevered downward as part of the action. The Pro Mouse also allowed the user to adjust the tension of the clicking mechanism to one of three settings by rotating a plastic wheel on the bottom of the mouse.The Pro Mouse, which originally shipped in black, was Apple’s first mouse with an optical sensor in place of a ball. A 2002 update changed its colour to white to match the iMac G4. In 2003, Apple simplified the white Pro Mouse, removing the tension mechanism and renaming it simply Apple Mouse.
Wireless Mouse (2003)
Apple released its first cordless mouse in 2003 along with a matching keyboard. The Wireless Mouse used Bluetooth to connect to Macs, just as the computers began to integrate the short-range wireless standard. The Wireless Mouse retained the no-button design of the Pro Mouse, complete with optical tracking sensor and cantilevered top.
Mighty Mouse (2005), Mighty Mouse Wireless (2006)
After 22 years of one-button mice, Apple finally released a mouse with multiple touch sensors in the form of 2005’s Mighty Mouse. It contained two capacitive touch sensors, one for left and right “clicks,” a squeeze sensor in the middle, and a scroll ball in the middle. And like the previous Apple mice, the only physical movement it made during a click was a downward cantilevered movement of the top shell.In 2006, Apple released a wireless version of the Mighty Mouse that used Bluetooth for connectivity. In 2009, Apple renamed the wired Mighty Mouse the Apple Mouse, and it’s still available for purchase.
iPhone Touchscreen (2007)
Apple took a huge leap forward with pointing devices in 2007 when it released the iPhone, Apple’s first product to incorporate a multi-touch sensitive display. “Multi-touch” meaning that the touch screen can distinguish the placement of more than one finger on the screen simultaneously.Since its debut, multi-touch displays have also appeared in the iPod touch, iPad, iPad mini, and a continuing parade of iPhone iterations. Apple’s success with multi-touch made it an industry standard for smartphones and tablets.
MacBook Air Multitouch Trackpad (2008)
The success of multi-touch in the iPhone inspired Apple to incorporate multi-touch technology into its notebook trackpads. The first Mac to include a multi-touch trackpad was the MacBook Air in 2008. It supported multi-finger gestures to control aspects of the operating system. Today, all of Apple’s trackpads are multi-touch capable.
Magic Mouse (2009)
Multi-touch mania continued in 2009 with the introduction of the Magic Mouse, which replaced the wireless Mighty Mouse in Apple’s product portfolio. Like its predecessors, this low-profile mouse only physically “clicks” downward with the cantilevered movement of its carapace. It can detect multiple click types based on figure positions, and it also supports finger gestures, as the entire surface of the mouse is multi-touch sensitive.
Magic Trackpad (2010)
Apple released its first desktop trackpad in 2010. The Magic Trackpad supports multi-touch input along any portion of its large, smooth glass surface. It also responds to a downward push with a subtle, physical “click” movement. With batteries encased in its aluminium chassis, the Magic Trackpad reaffirms Apple’s commitment to sleek, wireless Bluetooth peripherals.Where will Apple pointing devices go from here? Touch screens on desktop Macs and MacBooks? Camera-detected air gestures? Only Apple knows for sure. But whatever they do, it will likely point the way for the rest of the industry to follow.
By Benj Edwards (@benjedwards). Macworld