The Apple rumor-mill’s speculation of a replacement for the Mighty Mouse has been borne out today, with Apple introducing the world’s first wireless multi-touch “Magic Mouse”. As with all Apple designs, the new mouse is a lesson in minimalist design with no buttons, scroll wheels or “nipples” on display. Instead, the entire top of the aluminum-based mouse is a seamless hard acrylic multi-touch surface that lets users navigate using the finger gestures made popular on other Apple devices, such as the iPod touch, iPhone and Macbook trackpads.
The touch-sensitive surface enables all the familiar mouse controls, including left and right mouse buttons, and adds full 360 degree scrolling capabilities by brushing a finger across the surface in any direction. This is a welcome replacement for the “nipple” employed on the Mighty Mouse that yours truly found impossible to keep clean, resulting in the scrollbar heading north when I wanted it to move south. Since the whole surface is, in fact, a clickable button like the original clear Apple mouse, there is a reassuring physical feedback when clicking the buttons.
One gesture that hasn’t made the transition to the new Magic Mouse is pinch zoom - instead, a screen zoom is accomplished by holding the Control key on the keyboard down while scrolling with one finger. Swiping across the touch surface with two fingers lets users flip through web pages in Safari or photos in iPhoto. Of course, if any of the gestures feel unintuitive to you then the touch controls are fully customizable, which also comes in handy for lefties wishing to swap left and right mouse button functionality.
The new Magic Mouse also uses a laser tracking engine that lets it remain accurate on a wider range of surfaces than traditional optical tracking. The mouse’s Bluetooth wireless connection has a range of up to ten meters (33-feet), while its power management system automatically switches the mouse to low power modes during periods of inactivity. This allows the mouse, which is powered by two AA batteries, to boast a four-month battery life.
Apple’s new Magic Mouse will be included with every new iMac and is available separately for US$69.