I was moving iTunes onto my second monitor just now (placed to the right of my main screen), and the song playing just happened to fade 100% right as I did it. My initial response was, “Oh crap, what did I do?” Almost immediately, though, the sound went back to the left channel and my confusion waned. This wasn’t some newly unearthed OS X gesture, but merely a coincidental alignment of gesture and result. I think the fact that my brain created that causality speaks volumes about gesture-based operating systems in general, though.
Though there are lots of other reasons why I switched to a Mac (the ease of web development being chief among them), but the biggest difference in my mind between Windows and Macs is Cupertino’s love of gesture-based interfaces (which I share). My last Windows machine was a small 8″ tablet running tablet XP–the form factor was perfect for me, but the touch as an interface was way behind the mouse. I build quite a few little interface prototypes in Processing at the time, but there really wasn’t a way to take a small little self-contained java demo and push its conventions onto the OS as a whole (I’m certainly not an OS programmer).
Between the built-in gestures in OS X, the iPhone, multitouch trackpads, and the new multitouch mouse, Apple is kicking Microsoft’s ass on the gesture front. Surface and the Courier are promising, but neither of them are exactly nearing the consumer market at this point. Why not build a touch controller for the XBox? Something small (maybe, uh, Zune sized?) which could act as a secondary display for inventory or controls. There’s nothing stopping them from doing this, and assuming it was available to XNA developers this would instantly get me interested in building more games for the platform (the Zune requirement would mean even less people would buy them, but heck–no one’s buying indie games anyway).
There are rumors swirling that the new Apple tablet will have somewhat of a learning curve, so I’m hoping it’s some kind of new gestural interface. Since it’s not being unveiled for another couple of days, I thought I might as well fantasize a little about my ultimate tablet device: