Apple patent suggests touch-screen iMacs ahead

iMac and MacBooks with dual mouse/touch modes
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Apple has filed a patent that describes a transition between mouse input and touch-screen input depending on screen orientation.

The patent filed at the World Intellectual Property Organisation is called "Transitioning between modes of input" and shows diagrams of potential new Apple systems which can shift between traditional mouse and keyboard input and a touch-screen input like that seen in iOS. 

The concept of touch screen Macs running iOS or a similarly locked down interface has long been rumored and the iPad appears to bridge much of the gap in terms of display size. The first diagram shows a swivel screen which can be tilted down at which point the display would switch "between a high-resolution input mode, such as a mouse-based interface, and a low-resolution input mode, such as a touch-based interface."

While the patent has fueled speculation that Apple may be intending a dual OSX/iOS range of devices, the patent also describes a more integrated approach where the shift between input modes would result in "modifying an item displayed in the UI of the one mode into a corresponding item displayed in the UI of the other mode."

While the patent is obviously no guarantee of commercialisation into products, Apple's profits have surged due to the success of the iPhone and iPad range as well as the cut the company makes from software offered exclusively through the App store. 

Rumors surrounding the the upcoming "iTV" replacement for the Apple TV have also pointed towards an iOS platform running on iPhone-like hardware with software Apps as a major feature. The rumors and patents point towards a strategy of rolling out the touch-screen closed software ecosystem of iOS into ever increasing hardware categories.

Image credit: Apple via WIPO patent

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