How gesture controls could bring multi-touch to Mac [Cult of Mac Magazine No. 285]

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Gesture controls could replace 3D Touch and bring multi-touch to the Mac (finally!).
Gesture controls could replace 3D Touch and bring multi-touch to the Mac (finally!).
Cover: Graham Bower and Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

With gesture controls apparently about to become a thing, it’s time to look at how they could work on future iPhones and Macs. In this week’s issue of Cult of Mac Magazine, we show how gesture controls could take the place of the dying 3D Touch. And, even better, how they could bring multi-touch to the Mac at long last.

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How gesture controls could replace 3D Touch and bring multi-touch to the Mac [Opinion]

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Hovering your finger over an icon could bring up more options
Hovering your finger over an icon could bring up more options
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Next week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, LG looks set to unveil a revolutionary new smartphone with gesture controls. In a brief teaser video, the South Korean tech giant boldly promises the end of multi-touch — the way we’ve all been interacting with smartphones ever since the iPhone launched in 2007.

A gesture sensor could pick up hand movements in front of the device, rather than requiring physical interaction with the screen itself. So, for example, you could point at a button from a distance, rather than actually needing to tap the glass screen to select it.

In reality, I doubt that gestures will replace multi-touch anytime soon. However, I do think Apple could make intelligent use of this new tech. It could replace 3D Touch (which Apple looks set to scrap), and it could serve as a clever way to finally bring multi-touch to the Mac.

iOS 11 brings 5 different types of tap, but don’t panic

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five touches
Both of these were caused by tap-and-hold, which sounds confusing but isn't.
Photo: Cult of Mac

When the iPhone launched 10 years ago, there were two kinds of tap. A regular tap for everything, and a special press-and-hold to get the Home screen icons jiggling and ready to rearrange. That was it. Now, with iOS 11, I have counted at least five different types of tap and press, and that’s just on the iPad. If you count the iPhone, then you also have 3D-Touch to deal with.

Partly this comes down to the new systemwide drag-and-drop capability baked into in iOS 11, and partly it has to do with Apple trying to mimic 3D Touch’s pressure sensitivity on the iPad.

The biggest surprise, though, is that Apple managed to pull it off, even in the early iOS 11 beta I’m running now. Not only are these gestures all intuitive, but the overall feel of interaction has gotten way better.

How Apple made the iPhone magical, this week on The CultCast

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The Original iPhone
It was a thing of beauty, but the software made it magical.
Photo: Apple

It’s easy to ignore how intuitive it is to use an iPhone. But a team of designers painstakingly crafted the vast array of simple swipes and taps that give the iPhone its magic.

This week on The CultCast, we’ll tell you the stories behind inertial scrolling and Swipe to Unlock. And we’ll talk about Bas Ording, the man who brought iOS to life using the physics of our natural world.

Our thanks to Squarespace for supporting this episode. It’s simple to accept Apple Pay and sell your wares with your very own Squarespace.com website. Enter offer code CultCast at checkout to get 10 percent off any hosting plan.

New MacBook Pro is thinner, faster and more magical

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macbook pro
Meet the new MacBook Pro.
Photo: Apple

The MacBook Pro refresh we’ve been eagerly anticipating for months is finally here, and it’s everything we dreamt it would be.

Apple’s new high-end notebooks deliver a sleeker design, Intel’s latest Skylake processors, and that magic Touch Bar with Touch ID that we’ve been hearing so much about. The only real problem is the price.

Apple Watch Series 2 may not be enough to boost sales

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Apple Watch Nike Plus
Will the Nike+ bring in more Apple Watch customers?
Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac

The new features on the Apple Watch Series 2 will not be enough to boost overall sales of the wearable, claims KGI Securities analyst Ming Chi Kuo.

Even though the original Apple Watch was only on sale for eight months in 2015, Kuo’s supply chain sources indicate that sales will decline compared to last year.

Steve Jobs had to be convinced that multi-touch was the future

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How much is your smartphone spying on you? Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Where would the iPhone and iPad be without multi-touch? Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Steve Jobs may have had an astonishing ability to predict where tech was going next, but he very nearly missed out on the iPhone and iPad altogether.

That’s because — according to a quote from Jony Ive in today’s freshly-released biography, Becoming Steve Jobs — Apple’s late CEO didn’t see “any value to the idea” of multi-touch: the breakthrough touchscreen technology which makes iOS regulars like “pinch-to-zoom” possible.

And it was left up to Ive and a few other core Apple employees to save it.