Apple MacBook versus Laptop PC: the trackpad dilemma
What’s the single most glaring difference between a MacBook and a Windows PC? Anybody who has experienced both, will likely agree that Apple’s consistency in replicating and applying the same technology across all its products is not only great for marketing, but it also makes sense from a user experience point of view. On that note, one key difference between Macs and PCs, when it comes to laptops, is the trackpad.
A consistent experience across multiple devices is really what Apple is all about, especially when it comes to hardware. Even prior to the Force Touch trackpad, using a trackpad on a MacBook, or on a Apple Magic Pad means to be able to use iOS-like gestures and precision, over a smooth metal-like surface that requires no configuration or third party drivers to be installed.
Up until now, Windows laptops targeted at consumers don’t really match that type of experience, due to a combination of factors. Some have pointed out that one of the reasons why Windows laptops are yet to offer that type of experience, is because attempting to replicate or emulate such consistency is likely to anger Apple on a legal front, and quite honestly: we don’t buy it.
Yes: the record does show how Apple is likely to pursue companies that blatantly copy their products, such as in the case of Xiaomi, however, this is a different aspect of manufacturing hardware. It comes down to the basic fact that there is no two trackpads on any Windows laptop that are the same, behave the same, and most importantly, most of them require separate drivers and software to enable the most advanced features, such as multi-touch gestures.
Multi-touch gestures are a big deal in Windows 10. Considering the spread of touchscreen options, not only in tablets but also in regular laptops and hybrids, Tablet Mode is something that will see constant updates and improvement as users become more interested in this type of experience, and outgrow traditional, and almost completely obsolete mouse technology.
Have we been spoiled by touchscreens?
Let’s face it, touchscreens are cool. Nothing beats the ability to touch a file or a folder, or an item on a display, and move it in real time, especially when the tracking is accurate and doesn’t require constant calibration. Users love touchscreens, because they know the technology very well.
One thing that we all have done at some point, is to instinctively try and move items with our finger on a regular laptop display, as if it were a touchscreen. It’s perhaps a silly thing, but it makes sense, as consumers are so accustomed to do the same on their phones, tablets, slate tablets.
This is why Apple has put so much effort in ensuring that the trackpad in all Mac products offers such amazing experience, without compromises. It always feels the same, looks the same and requires no additional software or initial configuration. It just works.
By the same token, the same consistency can be found in other elements of a Windows laptop, such as the keyboard, mouse support, touchscreen support, and even speech recognition, which is also one more thing that is about to become very popular about Windows laptops. However, the trackpad is still a weak point that needs to be addressed. In all likelihood, we can’t expect laptop manufacturers to keep ignoring this problem for too long, especially as Apple could be considering future applications where the trackpad might even be embedded into the keyboard.