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gorillapaws's avatar

Will trackpads eventually replace the mouse?

Asked by gorillapaws (26513points) July 28th, 2010

With the advent of Apple’s new Magic Trackpad it got me wondering if we will start seeing multi-touch trackpads with gestures begin to replace the mouse as the typical desktop computer interaction tool.

I realize that the mouse will still be necessary for certain professions and tasks like gaming, but for the average joe, will we typically see a trackpad next to the keyboard in 10 years? The advantages of multi-touch with gestures is that you can interact more directly with the machine and it feels more natural once you get the hang of it. What do you think?

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17 Answers

vamtire's avatar

perharps,perharps not,I use the trackpad in appleā€™s macbook and it rocks,i never knew how much I dont need the mouse as scrolling and doing other things are better in the trackpad but the clicking sensation is not as good but apple did not take it into concern as macs are not good for gaming,imagine playing gun games using a trackpad,there are too many gamers in the world to let trackpad dominate their desktop

Andreas's avatar

I’m not much of a gamer, so I think a trackpad would be ideal for me. It will probably be another option to using your computer. Not for everyone.

ragingloli's avatar

No. Try playing a game with a pad. It will be a total horror. Even in normal operation (they already existed for ages on laptops) they are a pain in the arse to use. Even a tiny laptop mouse that makes your fingers hurt is more pleasant to use.
And just because Apple makes it and calls it magic, does not make it good or a good idea. It is still stupid.
And there already are big versions of these pads that have a very special purpose: they are called graphic tablets and are to be used with a digital pen.

gorillapaws's avatar

@ragingloli just to be clear, multitouch trackpads with gesture support haven’t been around for ages on laptops. There have been some gesture-based stuff for the desktop, but it was never particularly mainstream.

Also, I think certain types of gaming could work well with multi-touch such as RTS games and others that involve strategy, navigation and manipulating objects onscreen and aren’t so “twitchy”. Obviously, for Shooters, a mouse is pretty necessary. These don’t really compete with graphics tablets either, despite the similarities in form-factor.

jerv's avatar

@gorillapaws I beg to differ. The trackpads on my Toshiba and Acer netbook both support multi-touch gesturing, but the only people who really use it are ex-Mac users who wont (can’t?) learn new tricks. Personally, aside from the zooming gesture, I find little/no use for gestures There are some things that really need a mouse. I find drag-and-drop stuff so much easier with a mouse than a trackpad that I spent a few bucks on a portable wireless mouse.

Let me put it another way; if trackpads with gestures were so awesome, most Linux users would’ve thrown away their mice away ten years ago. No, trackpads won’t replace mice. Mice wil be around until we get Direct Neural Interfaces.

Of course, it comes as no surprise that Apple is making these claims. The iPad can’t do many of the things that people expect a portable system to be able to do and yet Apple is convincing people that they want an iPad. And who else could successfully sell a cellphone that can barely and rarely make calls?

mangeons's avatar

No, I find trackpads to be a real pain and much prefer just a regular mouse. It’s far easier to use.

Buttonstc's avatar

If the cellphone could barely or rarely make calls it certainly wouldn’t be a topseller for very long. Come on Jerv, let’s not stoop to exaggeration here.

The current antenna problem with the iPhone 4 is COMPLETELY cured with the bumper strip or really any case at all. I haven’t upgraded yet, but I wouldn’t consider using my current 3g without a protective case and plan to do the same for my next one. (Im sure I’ll get top dollar for it since there’s not a single scratch or dent or scuff mark anywhere on it.)

And since they’re offering several choices of cases for FREE to remedy any possible problems, I’m fine with it.

In the two years I’ve had my iPhone I’ve had excellent reception and NO dropped calls ( the only exception being while driving through one mountainous area on the PA Tpk. a few times per year) but that happened in the exact same place in the past with my old Samsung.

As for the mouse issue, I agree that it will be unlikely to be completely replaced and I hardly think that’s Apples goal.

I know you think their hype is over the top, but the same is true for most companies.

But making unfounded statements about the phone barely able to make calls does nothing for your credibility here :)

I’ve never had a single reception problem with my iPhone that I did not likewise have with previous phones from ATT. So whatever problems there were in that regard were due to ATT not to Apple. And I’m certain that there are millions of people with the same experience as mine. How do i know that ? That’s just simple logic. If the iPhone were that defective and non functional, it wouldn’t still be selling like it does. Hype can only go so far. In the long run, the truth will carry the day.

When it comes to the practical ability to make phone calls dependably, people are just not willing to choose elegant form and lousy functionality. That’s just not how life works.

If the phone were that terrible, they would be forsaking it in droves and replacing it with an iPod Touch instead.

But that’s not what’s really happening, is it now ? The numbers speak for themselves.

Check out the statistics of the percentage of returns within that 30 day grace period (even with the 4). You don’t have to take my word for it. Check the numbers out for yourself.

IF your hyperbole were anywhere near resembling reality, those percentages would be in the 90th percentile range rather than 10 percent or less. People will not tolerate a non or barely functioning phone. They depend upon them way too much.

CMaz's avatar

I use a trackball. Works the best for me.

drClaw's avatar

I’ve always preferred using a mouse, especially when designing. I could get on board with a big multi—gesture track pad if it also supported use with a stylus, but the thought of having to draw with my finger is not appealing to me.

Seek's avatar

If the “magic trackpad” could really replace the mouse, why do they also sell a “magic mouse”?

ragingloli's avatar

Yo dawg, I heard you like macs so we only put one pedal in yo car.

gorillapaws's avatar

Just a few points. This question isn’t intended to be Apple-specific, but more about the large-multi-touch trackpad form-factor. From a UX perspective there are a lot of interesting possibilities that simply aren’t possible with the mouse. To the people who dislike trackpads, have you ever used a large, multi-touch one (I really hated the old ones)?

@drClaw I agree that finger-painting isn’t really practical or desirable. That said, what if an app like Photoshop had custom gesture support and allowed you to manipulate objects with gestures instead of having to constantly swap between the same few tools? Or in a 3d app like Maya or Google’s Sketchup if you could manipulate 3d objects with touch, wouldn’t that be an infinitely better user experience than using a mouse? Obviously if you needed to draw something, you would use a graphic tablet, but for basic manipulations I would think a large multi-touch trackpad would work better.

@Seek_Kolinahr I would think it’s because some people will prefer a mouse, and as I stated earlier, some types of software really requires the kind of precision that you can only get with a mouse.

drClaw's avatar

@gorillapaws you make a good point. Being able to manipulate things like perspective or objects could be pretty useful.

jerv's avatar

@Buttonstc I am just going by the people I know who do not live in metropolitan areas who have problems they didn’t have before, the people who have problems where other AT&T customers do not, and the AT&T techs who say that most of their dropped calls are iPhone-related. Maybe you and I are operating on different data sets here, but I go where the facts lead me.
You claim that people won’t take elegant form and lousy functionality. I’ve seen too many things in my life that prove you wrong. One thing I have noticed is that superior quality, technology, or performance will always lose to shiner objects and that consumer preferences have little basis in facts. Beta is superior to VHS, but it lost the format wars. Healthy food is easy and cheap to buy, but people pay extra to get fat and fall prey to heart disease and/or diabetes. You give people far more credit than I feel they deserve.

FWIW, I believe that most of the iPhone’s issues will go away once they go to Verizon. If nothing else, they will have worked out a few of the bugs in the 4th-gen iPhones. The 3rd-gens will still be plagued with weak transmitters, but I got spoiled by a Nokia that could pull bars in places that left other cell-phone wielders cursing.

@gorillapaws Somehow, I see touchscreens being far more popular. I have seen a few multi-touch screens on new PCs and the more direct link between input and output will add an ease of use that you can’t get in a trackpad. Android and iOS are pretty snazzy that way. As much as I dish on the iPad, I have to say that it did get a few things right. Not bad for a first-gen device if you ask me.

Kraigmo's avatar

Within 25 years, people will be able to move their cursor just by looking at it.
This technology is here now, but in 25 years, everyone will have it.

Here’s the technology in its infancy:

jerv's avatar

Bah! Give me Sixth Sense over that any day!

lillycoyote's avatar

Not for me. You can have my mouse when you can wrestle it from my cold, dead hand.

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