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Apple's Multi-Touch Mac
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An Apple patent application published Thursday describes a multi-touch Mac tablet, reigniting speculation on the Web that the Macintosh and iPod maker is looking to extend its popular iPhone technology to Apple computers.
The 52-page application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office covers some of the same concepts and diagrams as a 2006 patent application. The new application, however, introduces some new techniques.
In general, gestures on the touch screen would be associated with a number of tasks, including zooming, panning, scrolling, rotating, enlarging, floating controls, zooming targets, paging, inertia, keyboarding, and wheeling, said the application, which was first reported by enthusiast site AppleInsider. Among the inventors listed on the application is Jonathan Paul Ive, who is senior VP of industrial design at Apple.
The British designer is renowned as the principal designer of the iMac, the aluminum PowerPook G4, the MacBook Pro, iPod, and iPhone.
An application does not necessarily mean a product, and Apple does not discuss roadmaps. Nevertheless, speculation that something may be in the works has been going on for weeks.
Some of the Web chatter was sparked in July, when Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer told financial analysts that an ongoing "product transition" would push gross margin down through 2009.
Oppenheimer declined to provide any details of what Apple was working on, but promised it would be "state of the art" and unmatched by rivals.
TheStreet.com's Gary Krakow is one believer in a tablet computer, saying it would likely be based on the popular iPhone touch screen. MacRumors said the device could be a 12-inch or 13-inch Mac tablet that would ship in September or October.