Apple has placed the final piece of the "touch" puzzle today with the launch of a new mouse, called the Magic mouse, that has no buttons.
In a move that to many has gone unnoticed, Apple has over the last 6 years slowly been educating its faithful to embrace touch and ditch buttons once and for all.
The beginnings of touch
The move started some time ago of course with an iPod. While the first models had buttons, Apple was quick to ditch them in 2003. In came a touch sensitive wheel and buttons that saw you whizz around in circles scrolling through your music collection. It might have been clickable, but there was no d-pad element to it.
The big feel
2007 saw the launch of the iPhone and the Apple iPod touch, two small touchscreen-only devices that ditched the buttons in favour of gestures on a screen. For the iPhone there had been touchscreen phones before, but virtually all of them focused on using a pen or a stylus to navigate around the screen rather than your finger. The finger was now the most important part of controlling your phone and what better way for Apple to show their intentions than naming a product with the buzz word - touch.
Smaller but equally important strokes
Now that people had grasped the idea of using their finger to control elements on their phone or MP3 player, Apple started making "touch" a focus point on its software and laptops.
The Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard) launch saw certain controls within the OS, like Time Machine, get bigger buttons that emulated the iPhone operating system. The OS also added controls for using Apple-based software like iPhoto, allowing you to rotate images, zoom in, and use multiple fingers on the company's laptops thanks to the laptop's built-in touchpad.
With touch firmly embedded in our minds Apple then ditched the dedicated click button from the laptop all together, replacing it with a single touchpad sheet. Now every new Mac is asking its user to embrace the finger, but the desktop machines and their users were missing out.
A cute "strokable" cat
If you've upgraded to Apple OS X Snow Leopard it's clear to see what Apple's direction is. There is a reason clicking (or should we say touching) on an icon in the dock launches Expose for that app. Or that Expose even exists in the first place. Snow Leopard is the most touchy feely of all the OSes to date.
Confident that Apple users now grasp touch controls either by using a MacBook or MacBook Pro and/or an iPhone or iPod touch, Apple releases a touch-based mouse with no buttons or scroll wheel, pushing a new operating method on those who sign-up. It's the company's biggest and boldest move in the story so far as it's a completely new way to interact with your computer.
The strokable future
Yep, we know the Apple Tablet is just a rumour, but it is the next logical step in the "touch" story. Having spent the last 6 years educating its users to embrace the finger, a shift to hardware-less computing could replace the regular PC in the home, wipe out the need for multiple laptops and create a new industry completely for Apple.
Congratulations, you may not have realised it, but Apple has been educating you in the way of "touch" without you even realising it. For Apple, touch devices are cheaper to make, easier to design and are overall more "lifestyle" in their approach.
Get ready to show your computer the finger even more in the future.