Why Snow Leopard Rocks for Japanese Speakers

I totally came up with this idea last year, but I never filed a patent, so there goes my windfall from Apple :)

If you haven’t been following the whole multitouch saga, Macs have been adding more and more complicated gesture support to their laptop touchpads, letting you use different combinations of fingers and movement to trigger stuff like Expose and application switching. That’s all well and good, but they just added a feature that’s a total game-changer for anyone typing in Chinese or Japanese:

Until Snow Leopard, if you wanted to enter Chinese characters on a computer, you had to type in the phonetic spelling of Chinese words and the computer would convert them into proper Chinese characters. Snow Leopard offers a breakthrough new way to enter characters: You draw them right on the Multi-Touch trackpad in your Mac notebook. They’ll appear on the screen in a new input window, which recommends characters based on what you drew and lets you choose the right one. The input window even offers suggestions for subsequent characters based on what you chose.

Characters_touchpad20090608

They say “Chinese” characters, but given the Chinese roots of Japanese kanji and the already-good Japanese support built into OS X, I’m going to assume this will work for Japanese as well. This is very, very cool, and makes a Mac a great accessory for any Japanese class (being able to key in unknown kanji in a happyokai would also be cool).

We’ve been able to do native character input on the iPhone/iPod touch for awhile, and it seems like Apple’s laptop multitouch pads have reached similar sensitivity to the touchscreens on their mobile devices. So here’s my question: when do we get to just replace the touchpad with an iPod? The new ones are damned thin, and having a second screen and second (albeit tiny) processor on your mac would open up all sorts of possibility for gaming, information display, and multipane workspaces like Lightroom and Photoshop. It probably wouldn’t fit into the smaller models, but I see a place in the market for a 17-inch, two-screen graphics workstation from Apple.