It's all about touch, right?

Many words will get blasted out to the Internet today over Apple's event and the easy thing to do will be to complain about the lack of true innovation that the company showed in all of its new products.

To me that is less interesting than the repeated chord of dissonance that the products and speakers kept hitting over the type of interface innovation that is going into both the new mega iPad and the iPhones. It would seem as though the primary input method that has carried the company for the last eight years, multi-touch, is now under assault from a number of different directions, two which strike me as fairly dangerous for a company that has lost its leadership in the form of a design and product centric founder.

The first is that complexity is being layered into the affordance of the "deep touch" (or 3D touch as the company markets it even when the executives on stage still refer to it as Force Touch). This contextual menu approach strikes me as such a power user's feature that I have a tough time seeing regular users even figuring out that it exists. Which of course will create a huge problem when app developers start putting stuff in the context menus that are not represented elsewhere.

In a way it is a replay of the one versus two button mouse design battle of the 80s: the story goes that for many years the Mac had a one button mouse because Steve thought the mouse was new enough to computer users that the two buttons would get confusing (the original Xerox PARC mouse had three buttons). Power Windows users would complain about the one button and its limits on productivity while the general population remained completely befuddled by Windows apps and their context menus.

The second interface dissonance that really confused the state of input was on the iPad Pro. It might be "touch first" (as the video took great pains to point out) but apparently the company has now sanctioned both the keyboard and a stylus (you can almost feel Steve rolling in his grave on this one). They are accessories and not included which probably means that they will be adopted slowly at first and supported by third party applications incompletely. And while third parties have made valiant efforts to bring both types of peripherals to market, they've always been janky and an afterthought and other than the fact that the keyboard is not powered and can be lighter, it was not clear what Apple will be doing to fix this.

Why go here at all? A rational person might assume that Apple is trying to kill the legacy PC with an iOS powered device that can be tablet, clamshell, and something new all at the same time. What I fear though is that they are doing it because they are confused about where the market is going and are thus trying to be all things to all people.