Apple’s Work on Touchscreen Macs: What We Know So Far
Some Apple fans have long wanted Apple to combine the functionality of the iPad with the Mac, and it appears that it’s finally going to happen. Apple is rumored to be working on touchscreen Mac technology, and we could see the first touchscreen Mac in just a couple of years.
This guide highlights everything that we know so far about Apple’s work on a touchscreen Mac.
According to Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman, Apple engineers are “actively engaged” in the development of a Mac with a touchscreen, and one of the first Macs with a touchscreen could be an OLED version of the MacBook Pro.
How Touchscreen Macs Will Work
The first touchscreen Mac is expected to continue to feature a traditional laptop design, complete with a trackpad and a keyboard.
While a standard notebook design will continue to be used, the machine will feature a display that supports touch input like an iPhone or an iPad.
Gurman says that the first touchscreen Macs are likely to use macOS, the operating system that runs on the Mac. Apple is not looking to combine iPadOS and macOS at this time, though the lines have blurred between the operating systems with the launch of Apple silicon Macs.
iPhone and iPad apps are already able to run on Macs with Apple silicon chips, unless a developer opts out of the cross platform functionality.
Touchscreen Mac History
Apple executives have said many times over the years that Apple does not have plans to release a touchscreen Mac. In 2021, for example, Apple hardware engineering chief John Ternus said that the best touch computer is an iPad, with the Mac “totally optimized for indirect input” rather than touch. “We haven’t really felt a reason to change that,” he said.
Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi in 2020 said that Apple believed Mac ergonomics require the hands to be rested on a surface, claiming that “lifting your arm up to poke a screen” is “fatiguing. ” Touchscreen laptops from other companies were also not compelling to Apple. “I don’t think we’ve ever looked at any of the other guys to date and said, how fast can we get there?”
Later in 2020, Federighi said that a touch-based interface was not considered for the Mac and that Apple had no secret plans to change the way the Mac works. Apple has been dismissing claims of a touchscreen Mac for almost a decade at this point.
Almost all PC manufacturers make some kind of touch-based tablet/laptop hybrid device, many of which are positioned as all-in-one or convertible machines.
HP, Lenovo, Dell, Asus, Microsoft, Google, and Samsung all have notebook options with touch displays. Major Apple competitor Samsung, for example, offers the Galaxy Book, which has a traditional keyboard and trackpad paired with a touchscreen.
The first touchscreen Mac could come out as soon as 2025, but there is time for Apple to change its plans.
Want a touchscreen MacBook? This portable monitor makes it possible
Whether you’re working from home, the office, or a bit of both, chances are you’ve considered adding a monitor or two to your computing setup. While choosing the right monitor layout can be a pain in the rear, a portable monitor is a great starting point. They’re mobile, take up less space than traditional displays, and often come at a cheaper price.
That mostly holds true with the Espresso Display V2, save for the cheaper price bit. Fundamentally, the Display V2 serves as a primary or secondary screen, mirroring or extending from your desktop, laptop, or mobile device — much like every other portable monitor. Where the Display V2 differentiates itself is in design and form factor, which the company touts as the thinnest and lightest on the market.
The 15-inch touchscreen model that I’ve been testing costs $499, which isn’t the most expensive portable monitor out there, but it’s a marginal step up from the sub-$200 offerings that you’d typically find on Amazon. Here’s my review of it.
1920x1080p at 60Hz
Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, tablets
Designed for minimalists
The 15-inch display produces punchy and sharp-looking images. I wish it was matte instead of glossy, though.
Part of the reason for Espresso’s lofty asking price is its industrial design. The Display V2’s record-setting claim is backed by 5.3mm of thickness and 620g (for the 13-inch model). The monitor is as thin as portable monitors come, which makes it excellent for slipping into a backpack, flexing around the home office, and carrying from place to place.
Equally impressive is the aeronautical-grade, aluminum unibody that gives the Display V2 its sturdy and metallic figure. Typically with cheaper monitors (often made with plastic), you’ll hear the slightest creaking when moving them around and fidgeting between orientations. That hasn’t been the case with this model, and I’ve felt comfortable enough tucking it in a bag with my laptop, books, and all.
Don’t worry, a hidden layer of cushioning separates the Display V2 from the laptop.
The monitor has two USB-C ports for display connection and nothing more. Gone is the 3.5mm headphone jack that was on the V1 model, and you won’t find any HDMI or USB port on the monitor, either. This can be a dealbreaker for some, especially if you’re eyeing a portable monitor to use as a standalone device. At the same time, the minimal, one-cable-rules-all approach is what makes the Display V2 as thin as it is.
More: Best portable monitors to get work done
How it works
At this point, I should mention that the Display V2, by default, is sold as a monitor only. The magnetic stand that turns it into a mini iMac display costs extra ($69), as do all the other practical accessories that Espresso suggests you use. From my week of using the monitor, I think the magnetic stand plays too significant of a role to be sold separately. Not only does it allow you to easily rotate the Display V2 from landscape to portrait mode, but it offers two tilt points for flexible viewing. I’d happily pay for the accessory, but I wish I didn’t have to.
The optional magnetic stand is thin and can be folded down when not used.
Setting up the Display V2 was as simple as connecting the monitor to my primary device via the included USB-C cable. Unfortunately, other USB-C cables would register the Display V2 as a touchpad and not a monitor, so you’ll want to keep the bundled cable safe and secure (but if you want a $499 touchpad, then that’s cool, too).
I tested the Display V2 with a MacBook Pro, Windows desktop, and Android phone, all of which successfully detected the monitor and naturally extended their content onto it soon after. With a 16:9, 60Hz, 1920 x 1080p panel, the Display V2 does an adequate job of displaying webpages, pictures, and videos. You can connect it to a Nintendo Switch as well, but don’t expect the best graphics and performance, even at $499.
To make the most out of the touchscreen, you’ll want to download Espresso Flow, a Mac- and Windows-supported software that enables multi-touch gestures and motion-based detection for when you rotate the monitor.
More: How to choose the right monitor layout for WFH
Portrait orientation is great for long-form, vertical content.
There are bottom-firing speakers on the monitor, but you’re better off using the native one(s) of your connected device. It’s certainly astounding how Espresso managed to cram a functioning speaker into the chassis, but in its pursuit of slimness, the actual audio performance takes a major hit.
Finally, a touchscreen for Mac
Industrial achievements aside, the Display V2 impressed me the most by doing something that even Apple cannot: giving touchscreen support for my MacBook. As many ZDNET contributors and readers have opined, a MacBook with a touchscreen would make one of the best productivity machines even better. While the Display V2 doesn’t turn your actual MacBook display into a touchscreen, it does replicate the content, allowing you to interact with taps, presses, and swipes.
While it was fun interacting with MacOS in a different manner, the operating system was not designed for it. That means that certain elements, like the red exit button in Safari, are way too small to tap on. Expect frequent mis-presses that only Espresso’s $79 stylus can solve.
More: Dear Apple, we need a touchscreen MacBook
One cable is all that separates Apple’s reluctance and a touchscreen MacBook dream.
Should you buy it?
The Espresso Display V2 is the thinnest portable monitor in the world, which means, by design, there are benefits and drawbacks. For traveling business people, hybrid workers, and digital nomads, the enhanced portability and simple set-up will be greatly appreciated. For remote and stationary workers, the ability to flex between display orientations and interact via touch comes in handy.
The things I’d watch out for are the subpar speakers, additional upcharges for accessories, and the glossy display panel, especially if you work near windows. If you can shoulder these limitations, then the Espresso Display V2 is as good as portable monitors get.
Alternatives to consider
Still on the fence? Here are some formidable alternatives to the espresso Display V2:
The Lenovo ThinkVision M14t is another touchscreen-enabled, portable monitor that supports USB-C passthrough. While not as flexible as espresso’s monitor-stand setup, you’re still able to tilt the display up and down and station it in portrait mode. There are no built-in speakers, though.
If you’re eyeing a portable monitor for on-the-go gaming, then check out the ASUS ROG Strix. It has a much larger panel at 17.3 inches and refreshes at 240Hz (compared to the espresso’s 60Hz). ASUS also crammed in a built-in battery that should last up to three hours per charge.
For a no-frills portable monitor, we’d recommend this 15.6-inch, touchscreen offering from ViewSonic. It’s not competing with espresso to be the thinnest display out there; the thick side tray houses two USB-C ports, an HDMI port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Apple understands why you need a MacBook Pro with a touch screen
Touch screens in laptops and Windows computers have been around for a long time. Many companies have added a touchscreen to their devices at the first opportunity. True, the issue of convenience was not thought out at all. In most situations, no one used them, preferring the classic ways of interacting with computers. Just imagine that you are sitting at the computer correctly: with a straight back and at a certain distance from the table. Why reach for the screen when your mouse or touchpad is right at your fingertips?
Soon all devices will be able to use the same applications.
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It is for this reason that Apple did not add a touchscreen to the MacBook . It just wasn’t necessary. But with the transfer of almost all Macs to ARM processors of our own design, it became possible to install applications for iPhone and iPad on Mac . And here the need for a touch screen manifested itself in full. As a result, Apple develops MacBook Pro with touchscreen . We tell you what advantages the touch screen gives to Apple computers and when you should expect a new product.
Applications for iPhone on Mac
The usability of touch screens in laptops is still a matter of heated debate. For example, in my computer on Windows 11 , there is no such possibility and there is no desire to poke fingers into small elements of the operating system. Things are no better on macOS Ventura. In some places there are very small icons and icons that are more convenient to click with the cursor. Therefore, in terms of ergonomics and interaction with macOS at the moment, the lack of 9The 0003 touchscreen in the MacBook is fully justified.
Now you can install programs on your Mac from your iPhone and drive your car.
But imagine for a second that you install some iPhone or iPad application on your computer . Naturally, they are fully adapted for touch control, and your experience using such a program can cause continuous suffering. Very often, the trackpad or wheel does not allow you to scroll through the lists correctly, and a long press on an item on an iPhone does not always work on a Mac. From a logical point of view, this should be a right-click or trackpad click. But these two actions have no connection, so you can lose some of the functionality.
You can even install Yandex Food.
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It turns out that there is an opportunity to use applications, but there are no ways to manage to get a positive experience. That’s why Apple started developing the MacBook Pro with the touchscreen. And now I propose to think that without exception, all Apple devices will ship with ARM processors . This will allow iPhone, iPad and Mac to work with exactly the same programs. It turns out that Apple is starting to gradually bring all operating systems together in this way. The touch screen in the MacBook will allow you to get a similar experience of using the same application on different devices, and developers will not produce several versions of the same program.
Need an app that’s only available for iPhone? Installed and using the touch screen you use it just like on a smartphone. But to be honest, I do not see, at least for myself, real scenarios for using such a device. As for me, it is much easier to use the mouse or trackpad and not keep your hand on the weight trying to control the laptop from the screen. And if necessary, just get a smartphone and do everything on it. Still, a touch screen in a tablet and a computer are completely different things in terms of convenience. But I have no idea how to use programs from a Mac on an iPhone. They are very different devices.
When Macbook touch comes out
DaVinci Resolve for iPad is a standalone application. Soon developers will not have to create such versions, but it will be possible to use from the Mac.
Here I suggest remembering that when the iPad came out, the App Store specifically for tablets came out with separate applications with the HD prefix. Moreover, you could install the iPhone version on the iPad and expand it to most of the screen, but the HD version on the iPhone is no longer possible. Over time, Apple gave developers the opportunity to immediately release universal applications, laying in them several interface options for different resolutions and screen sizes. Apparently, Cupertino is going to continue to develop this initiative, and by programs for the iPhone and iPad will also add a Mac.
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In such a situation, the need for further support for Mac App Store will completely disappear. But will it be possible to refuse it? Most likely no. In 2019, Apple already had an attempt at building universal apps with Project Catalyst. Its essence was to transform a program adapted for a touch screen into a regular “non-touch” one. The developers were very unhappy with the big difficulties in optimization due to the different interface structure. The first such applications were supposed to appear from with the release of macOS Catalina , but due to problems with software optimization, they did not have time and were postponed. And these are not programs of unknown developers, but, for example, game Asphalt 9 . What Apple will do in this situation, given the experience gained from the Project Catalyst , is not yet clear, but we will believe that Cupertino has some kind of plan.
Macbook screen will be larger even iPad Pro 12.9.
Hope iPad with M-series 9 processors0004, it will be possible to install applications that were previously only available on Macs. Apparently, this is exactly how Apple sees a full-fledged work on tablets. If necessary, you can connect a mouse, trackpad and keyboard to the iPad, or you can use only the touch screen. It remains only to provide the necessary software. But working on an iPad isn’t the best solution you can think of. You’ll run into the same difficulties you’d run into with any touchscreen laptop: there’s no point in reaching for the screen when you plug in a mouse and keyboard.
Plus, placing this whole structure on your knees will not work, as it will fall. If it is possible to use a laptop, then it is better to do everything from it. And it doesn’t matter if you have the necessary applications or not. Any current MacBook has at least a larger screen than an iPad and boasts full multitasking in separate windows. The last point puts the iPad on the back, even with Stage Manager, which raises more questions than it provides any benefits.
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The MacBook Pro with the touchscreen is scheduled for release in 2025, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. Therefore, Apple still has a lot of time to bring to mind both macOS and the MacBook itself. Personally, for myself, I do not see the point in buying such a computer. Still, the standard ways of interacting with a laptop are more familiar to me. Tell us in the comments if you are waiting for universal programs for iPhone, iPad and Mac and whether you will become a buy Touch MacBook Pro .
App StoreApple ComputersApple TabletsApple Smartphones
ViewSonic TD Series Monitors Get Full Multi-Touch Compatibility with macOS Monterey
vTouch 3.1 Driver , which is now available for download on ViewSonic’s website, to help you get the most out of your Mac and the macOS operating system.
Moscow, Russia (December 16, 2021)
ViewSonic Corp. , the world’s leading provider of visual information products, has released the vTouch 3.1 driver for its
TD series touchmonitors, ensuring display compatibility with the recently released macOS Monterey operating system . Mac users can extend the full functionality of their Mac trackpad to touchscreen monitors, combining dual-screen performance with support for multi-touch gestures.
The TD series offers a wide range of products for a variety of needs, from
16″ portables to
“Mac users now have the ability to connect external touch screens while maintaining the functionality of their OS. Our vTouch driver has greatly improved touch support for macOS. This is backed up by positive feedback from Mac users using ViewSonic touchmonitors,” says Alexander Frolov , ViewSonic representative product manager in Russia and CIS countries. “We strive to ensure that our displays are always equipped with the latest software. We are proud to present a modern driver that supports multi-touch gesture recognition and provides users with a solution to get the most out of their macOS devices.”
ViewSonic’s TD Series touch monitors are designed to meet a variety of needs and are ideal for dual screen applications. Previously, Mac users were unable to use external touch monitors due to macOS restrictions. With the latest ViewSonic vTouch software, Mac users can use all the multi-touch features such as zoom, pinch, zoom, rotate, stretch and other Mac trackpad gestures on the TD series monitors. Now Mac users can enjoy the full potential of dual-screen multitouch.
vTouch 3.1 driver works with all ViewSonic TD series. The driver is compatible with both Intel and M1 processors and is also available for macOS 10.8 and later. Mac users can install ViewSonic’s vTouch from this link .
The TD series offers resistive, infrared (IR) and capacitive touch screen options.