Introducing the MacBook Touch?

God, I hope not.

I keep seeing commentary from people who want Apple to merge iOS and OSX into a unified OS experience, one that will work the same on a notebook/desktop and a tablet/smartphone. Don't they see how poorly it would work?

For instance, Windows 8/Metro/Worst Thing Since Vista. Some resellers are offering an "upgrade" to Windows 7 when you buy a new Windows 8 PC. Is it entirely because of the unified OS? No. But it's part of it. It doesn't work well for either experience. I don't know of ANYONE who has a Windows 8 machine - Surface or proper computer - who is happy with it. It's a terrible user experience. (UPDATE: I had a friend contact me - he has 3 machines with Windows 8.1 and he loves them. I suspect Stockholm Syndrome.)

But here's the thing (as outlined so well by John Kirk) - the user experiences are incompatible. What works so well on a tablet - touching with a finger - wouldn't work well with a computer, because the computer has been designed to work with a keyboard and mouse. It's very precise. The tablet is imprecise.

Dr. Drang recounts an observation of some poor guy using a Windows 8 device with a touchscreen:

A couple of weeks ago, I got to do the kind of observation that user interface experts like to do. I was at a high school swim meet, in the stands a few rows behind a dad who was working on a touchscreen notebook computer between his son’s events. In between my son’s events and checking my email and Twitter, I could look down and see how he used the machine. What I saw is only one data point, but it represents real-world use, not the somewhat artificial use of a test subject who knows he’s a test subject.

The action I saw again and again was him reaching up to touch a button or a menu, bringing his hand away, and then going back to touch the screen again because he missed the target. He was pretty patient about it, which suggests it was behavior he was used to. Had it been me, I would have flung the damned thing into the pool.

The touch targets of a mouse-based machine are too small for effective touch with a finger. It's simply inelegant and unnecessary.