Apple declares that the mouse is dead

Magic Trackpad
Magic Trackpad: the end of the mouse?

With its shiny new Magic Trackpad, Apple is saying more than you might think.

On the face of it, the £59 device is a rather innocuous accessory - an enlarged trackpad from a MacBook Pro, but with the same sculpted aluminium styling as Apple's wireless keyboards.

"Use it in place of a mouse or in conjunction with one on any Mac computer," burbles Apple on the Magic Trackpad product page, but what Apple's really saying is this: The mouse is dead. Multitouch is the future.

Since multitouch gestures found their way into Mac laptops, Apple's path has been clear. Apple may not have invented the mouse, but it certainly popularised it, and now it believes it's time to bin it.

iOS has taught Apple that the general public responds extremely well to gesture-based computing, and while Apple trackpads still force a level of abstraction that a touchscreen device does not (controlling something by touching in one place while seeing it elsewhere, rather than direct interaction with content), they nonetheless enable users access to intuitive multitouch gestures that are becoming increasingly commonplace.

It's unlikely that we'll suddenly see iOS apps appearing on an iMac anytime soon, or a fully touch-based Mac (hello, RSI!); but what we will see is Apple increasingly working multitouch lessons learned on iOS into Mac OS X, and consumers happily moving between Mac OS X and iOS without a second thought.

And although Magic Trackpad is a standalone accessory today, don't be surprised if it's suddenly bundled with new desktop Macs in 2011, consigning the suddenly limited-in-scope Magic Mouse and other Apple mice to history.

Point-and-click's time is drawing to a close - Apple's moving towards multitouch alone.