Apple has redesigned many aspects of its laptop with its new MacBook — the design is thinner, the keyboard is totally different, and most of its ports have been squeezed into one single slot called USB C.
But there’s one addition that seems particularly intriguing based on first impressions: the new Force Touch trackpad.
Force Touch, which is Apple’s name for the technology inside its new trackpad, will debut on the 2015 MacBook and MacBook Pro refresh.
It comes with pressure sensitive sensors that can detect whether your pressing hardly or softly on the trackpad, which adds a few new features. For example, when you’re watching a video, pressing down firmly on the trackpad may allow you to fast forward the footage (9to5Mac discovered a whole bunch of Force Click features within OS X that you can read about here).
But what’s truly interesting is the idea that the Force Touch trackpad only functions as a mouse when you need it. When the computer is turned off, tapping on the touchpad feels almost like tapping on an plain hard surface, according to The Verge’s Dieter Bohn, who played with the new trackpad on Apple’s updated MacBook Pro. But when you boot up the laptop, it magically feels like a trackpad again.
Here’s how Bohn describes it (emphasis is our own):
The trackpad is force-sensitive, so it can tell how hard you’re pressing down. But instead of an actual button that gets clicked, there’s a set of electromagnets that move enough to feel like there’s a click happening. It feels exactly like a regular click. Apple calls this the “Taptic Engine,” which is a term that’s only slightly better than Force Touch. Anyway, you’re not actually clicking anything, is the point, it’s clicking you.
I was a bit sceptical when Apple first announced the new Force Touch trackpad. I didn’t like the idea that the trackpad on my MacBook would feel like tapping a smartphone — I, like many laptop users, wanted to feel some sort of feedback similar to that of clicking a mouse. But based on Bohn’s account, it sounds like the technology behind Apple’s new trackpad is capable of functioning as a regular mouse and more.
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