Most PCs and notebooks don't feature touchscreens, but if trackpads were to be mapped to replicate touchscreen-style controls... Android might just have a new frontier to conquer.
While Chrome OS
seems to have been officially relegated to Google's iconoclastic Chromebook
line, a recent patent application
filed by the company suggests Google is amidst serious preparations to bring Android to the desktop via a process it calls "mapping trackpad operations to touchscreen events".
Uncovered by Patently Apple
, the method calls for a user to be able to replicate touchscreen-style control inputs without an actual touchscreen interface at hand; by using a trackpad device -- as found on notebooks or, in terms of external peripherals, devices like Apple's Magic TrackPad mouse alternative (pictured) -- multi-touch finger gestures on the trackpad "may be directly mapped to touchscreen events, which may be processed by applications that may be configured to process such events (eg. applications and/or operating systems designed around a touchscreen user interface)."
Of course what makes touchscreens so intuitive is their combination of display and control input in one. Without the visual stimulus under your fingers, how difficult would it be to overcome the hurdle of touching blindly in an otherwise cursorless environment? Under Google's proposal, a single finger movement could call up an onscreen pointer, tapping from that spot could then simulate a select-style finger touch, while other multi-touch gestures, such as pinch to zoom, could be used in concert with what a keyboard keypress modifier to execute further virtual touchscreen-style controls.
While Google's disclosures aren't in themselves evidence necessarily of Android's desktop or notebook-bound future, they certainly help open up the possibility of running the hitherto 'mobile OS' on desktop and notebook form factors -- and Android would seem to be a neat fit, as an alternative to Windows 8, with the kind of hybrid-style Ultrabook-meets-tablet concept devices
we saw on show at CES this year.
As Patently Apple put it: "With Apple integrating more iOS features into OS X
this summer with the introduction of Mountain Lion, the influences of the tablet moving into the desktop space will continue to change the traditional desktop OS. Likewise, the popularity of Google's Android almost demands that it now move to something like the 2013 Ultrabook."