Blog Post

Apple Unveils the Magic Mouse

Magic Mouse perspective view

Today Apple revealed the Magic Mouse — the world’s first multi-touch mouse. Inspired by the multi touch technology in the iPhone and trackpad on modern MacBooks, Magic Mouse is the zero-button, gesture-sensing, wireless pointing-device of your dreams.

Its design is quintessentially Apple. The sleek, minimal lines of Magic Mouse definitely look like something straight out of Jonathan Ive’s workshop. Apple describe it as an “entirely new kind of mouse” that’s “Intuitive, smart [and] dynamic.”

But unlike its distant (and ill-received) ancestor the Mighty Mouse, this new pointing device really does do things no other mouse has ever done before. Apple says “We’ve built a better mouse” and, if you hated the Mighty Mouse, you’ll be hoping Apple isn’t exaggerating, but have got things right this time!

Magic Mouse profile view

The top shell of Magic Mouse is one huge seamless multi-touch sensor that does away entirely with buttons and scroll-nubs. (Great news for those frustrated Mighty Mouse users with gunky nubs. You know what I mean.)

Magic Mouse tracks and clicks like a regular mouse, but since the entire shell is touch-sensitive, it’s possible to click practically anywhere along its upper surface. That said, Secondary-click (right click) functionality is achieved, as you’d expect, by clicking in the top-right area of the device.

Click Anywhere
Click Anywhere

Scrolling is achieved by sliding, or swiping, a finger along the surface, rather like you would on an iPhone or iPod touch. Magic Mouse even senses the speed at which you ‘scroll’ — Apple calls this “momentum scrolling.” Scrolling is also supported horizontally and also through 360 degrees.

360° scrolling
360° scrolling

Just like an iPhone or a MacBook’s trackpad, Magic Mouse detects and tracks the number of fingers you are using at any given time. So, two finger swipes allows a user to move between albums in iTunes, web pages in Safari, pictures in iPhoto…you get the idea.

Two finger gestures
Two finger gestures

My immediate concern was room for misinterpretation; a dumb, regular two-button mouse can’t get all clever and start deciding it knows what I want to do. Those clunky buttons have to be pressed. That’s the only option. It might be dumb, but it’s predictable. However, Apple assures us Magic Mouse is smart enough not to be too clever.

Inside Magic Mouse is a chip that tells it exactly what you want to do. Which means Magic Mouse won’t confuse a scroll with a swipe. It even knows when you’re just resting your hand on it.

If, for some unfathomable reason, you don’t like your fancy new multi-touch mouse offering multi-touch functionality, you can choose to disable some, or all, of those features.

Magic Mouse supports all the old mousey tricks you’ve come to expect on the Mac; for example, holding Control and “scrolling” vertically will zoom in and out just as it always has with a wheel or nub-wielding mouse. Like the wireless Mighty Mouse before it, this one connects to your Mac via Bluetooth, enjoying a 33 foot radius. Unlike the Mighty Mouse, this one uses laser tracking technology which is far superior to the old optical tracking method. This provides far higher tracking resolution, which means far higher tracking accuracy across almost any surface.

Bluetooth wireless, laser tracking, and multi-touch goodness sucks down a lot of juice. Apple says Magic Mouse makes the most of its two standard AA batteries by employing power management features, making it more energy efficient. But Apple also doesn’t say how much life you can expect from your batteries. I’m not sure yet whether that ought to be cause for concern, but in any case, no one really takes Apple’s battery-life claims seriously, particularly on a first-generation device.

Magic Mouse requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later. Starting today it comes as standard with the new iMac, or for $69 is now available to order on its own via Apple’s online Store. Get all the juicy details, and watch a video demonstration here on Apple’s Mighty Mouse website.

27 Responses to “Apple Unveils the Magic Mouse”

  1. “No exposé is a deal killer not only for me but a lot of folks out there.”

    Not quite a “deal killer” for me, but it is something I’d like. Perhaps those double-swipes, useful only in a few applications, could be used for Expose. Then this new mouse would be really nice.

  2. Yep, I was definitely hoping for Exposé. Squeeze might seem a lot less lame now that it doesn’t have to come at the exclusion of features we expect out of every other mouse.

  3. This new mouse is sooo stylish and sexy. I’m going to get one right now for my now OUTDATED 24″ iMac… whatever it happens every year from apple, and it was worth getting it when it came out last year. Now all we have to do is wait for dell’s crappy copycat.

    • The only cursor jump concern I would see thus far is the two finger swipes. I’m guessing somewhat on the ergonomics of the Magic Mouse that it will help with that, but that as well is something on time and testing will tell.

      The other functions I dont see to be an issue, as its similar in theory to the Mighty Mouse hand control.

  4. Looks slick, and I love the idea but I believe the most powerful thing about using a mouse with your mac is setting exposé to be at your fingertips somewhere on the mouse. It makes switching applications and windows quick and creates a more efficient workflow. No exposé is a deal killer not only for me but a lot of folks out there.

    Maybe you can assign exposé to a gesture, but it doesn’t look like that’s an option based on early news..

    • hkiphone

      I’m guessing you hold it in place with your index finger, and your ring finger (fourth one). You swipe with 2nd and 3rd fingers.

      Also, it might be sensitive enough and have “the right drag co-efficient”* to allow fingers to glide over it effortlessly without swiping away the whole mouse.

      (* taken from the promotional video about the Macbook Pro’s full trackpad)