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What Apple could learn from Windows 10

Ryan Faas | Jan. 4, 2016
Microsoft's OS offers advances that rival Apple should consider implementing on its own.

Microsoft's vision, Continuum, allows apps to run on any Windows 10 device and automatically adjust the interface and features to the available hardware. The most notable example of this so far is on the Lumia 950 and 950 XL phones. Connected to a display and traditional input devices like a keyboard and mouse, Windows 10 Mobile takes on a desktop-like interface compete with task bar. Although the full range of Windows 10 features aren't available, major functionality and key apps work much as they would on a PC.

Apple has made it clear it has no plans to converge OS X and iOS in this way anytime soon. But that doesn't mean the company couldn't move in this direction.

iPhones and iPads already support Bluetooth keyboards and can mirror their displays using Apple’s AirPlay. The iPad Pro goes further with its keyboard cover and the Apple Pencil as an advanced input device. It wouldn’t take much to allow an iPhone to act as a primary computing tool on the go, with support for displays outside of AirPlay across iOS devices. Extending newer and larger iPhones' support for landscape orientation to other models when an external display is connected is all that’s needed, perhaps with support for more traditional input devices like Apple's Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad.

If Apple were to go this way, (and the iPad Pro is a step in this direction), it could turn the iPhone (and iPads beyond the iPad Pro) into true mobile computing solutions, which would have major appeal for business and enterprise customers.

Support for touchscreen Macs

This isn't specific to Windows 10, as PC have supported touchscreens for some time, but it's worthy of consideration. When I first started using a Windows 10 notebook, I didn't think much of its touchscreen. Since it isn't a hybrid device that can double as a tablet, I doubted I'd make use of the touchscreen at all. I was wrong. I've found myself tapping the screen at least as much as I do the trackpad (probably more).

There's an argument that interacting with a desktop or laptop using a touchscreen isn't natural, that a more standard input device is the way to go. The problem with that argument is that we live in a touch-centric world. Apple helped usher in this era with the iPhone and iPad, but touch interfaces go well beyond mobile devices - ATMs, self-checkout registers and airport ticketing kiosks are all built around touch interface. Touchscreens are so common that some toddlers get confused when they touch a TV and nothing happens.

Simply put, touch is now a natural way for us to interact with technology and that does extent to desktops and laptops.


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