To recap: Windows laptops have sprouted touchscreens, and don’t cause gorilla arm. The iPad Pro can be used like a laptop, and doesn’t cause gorilla arm. Does this mean that Apple’s refusal to put touchscreens on Macs indicates the company is clinging to once-conventional wisdom which is out of whack with reality?
Not entirely. A few thoughts:
On bigger screens, gorilla arm seems like more of an issue. I don’t have to reach that far to jab at my 12.9" iPad Pro, but a 15" screen would involve more stretching to get to the top of the screen. And tapping and swiping on a 21.5” or 27” iMac screen would be silly, unless Apple adopted a tilting stand akin to the one on Microsoft’s Surface Studio.
Apple might not want to put touchscreens on some, but not all, Macs
. One of the virtues–or at least distinguishing characteristics–of Macs over Windows PCs is their lack of fragmentation. (Usually: If Apple’s Touch Bar
has been disappointing, it may be in part because it’s only available on certain Macs, giving developers less incentive to care about it.) Touch couldn’t have a transformative impact on MacOS if it wasn’t available on all Macs–which it wouldn’t be, at least at first.
Windows went through hell to implement touch. Windows 8, the first version to take a touchscreen interface seriously, was a painful transition–for Microsoft and plenty of users–and much of the pain was an inevitable result of trying to graft a new interface onto an old operating system. That doesn’t have anything to do with gorilla arm per se, but it’s an experience Apple surely doesn’t want to repeat with MacOS.
Touch makes most sense on a convertible PC. Like Microsoft’s Surface, for instance, or at least a clamshell laptop with a screen that can be rotated around. If Apple were to go all-in on touchscreen Macs, it would need to figure out this aspect as well. And from the company’s perspective, it might still end up with something that was less touch-friendly than an iPad.
Of course, Apple saying that doing something would be a terrible idea is often simply a sign that it’s not ready to do that particular something. But I can’t think of another example of denials going on for a decade and people still tossing around whether a change will or should happen. Here are Jason Snell and John Gruber doing so last month: