Report: Apple planning to introduce new touch sensitive mouse that will do away with the scroll ball

Fri, Oct 2, 2009

News, Rumors

Fresh off a report from last week suggesting that Apple was planning to revamp its Mighty Mouse in conjunction with an expected iMac refresh, comes news from AppleInsider which sheds a lot more light on what sort of changes we can expect to see when Apple re-invents the mouse.

The Mighty Mouse, in its current form, was first released in 2005 and brought with it a number of improvements.  Mac users were finally given the ability to right click, albeit without a dedicated button, and buttons on the side of the mouse could be used to bring up Expose or any application for that matter.

The Mighty Mouse also introduced a scroll wheel for the first time which allowed users to not only scroll up and down on a page, but also from side to side.  When it actually works, the scroll wheel on Apple’s Mighty Mouse is a delight.  Everything works smoothly, and the small sized scroll ball is unobtrusive and quiet, as opposed to some scroll wheels I’ve seen on other mice.  Apple’s scroll wheel also added even more functionality, as users could press down on the scroll ball to activate the Dashboard or any other application of their choosing.

But the scroll ball on Apple’s Mighty Mouse wasn’t 100% perfect, with the biggest problem being that after a few months of heavy use, dirt and gunk would tend to accumulate under the scroll ball, all but rendering it completely useless – or at best, you might be able to scroll up but not down, or vice versa.

Now there are ways to clean the scroll ball, but since you can’t open up the mouse itself, doing so can be a pain at best, or a lesson in futility at worst.  Even more disheartening is that even if you do a good job of cleaning the scroll ball, once it gets stuck once, it’s more likely to get stuck again and again.

So that’s what the majority of Mac users have been living with for the past 4 or so years, and it’s about time for an upgrade, and that’s reportedly exactly what Apple has planned.

Last week, Mac4Ever reported that Apple’s new mouse will be 100% touchbased, but it didn’t delve into much detail aside from mentioning that it might also be draped in aluminum instead of white plastic.  But according to patent filings that stretch back to 2006, Apple’s new mouse will do away with the scroll ball and replace it with a touch sensitive surface that would operate much like scrolling does on the iPhone.  Presumably, users would flick down on the new mouse to scroll downwards and flick up to scroll upwards.  Given the popularity of multitouch devices these days, such functionality would be familiar with users and would also do away with all scroll ball related problems.  Apple’s new mouse will reportedly “deliver an intuitive new feel in scroll navigation”, and with Apple seemingly at the vanguard of practical multitouch technology, we can’t wait.


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4 Comments For This Post

  1. mikhailovitch Says:

    About %*#@!* time!

  2. LouRob Says:

    I’ll quote Mr. Scott who seems to have an insight into Apple hardware.

    “The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.”

    I’ve never had a problem with the new mouse. When it gets dirty, you clean it. We’ve been doing that same thing for 25 years now. And the new mouse will just bring new complaints about something.

  3. Jeff Little Says:

    Like it only has one button snicker snicker…

  4. Preston Says:

    “Mac users were finally given the ability to right click”

    Mac users have been able to right-click since the 90s, just like Windows users.

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