Apple has finally woken up to the right-click - but how does the new Mighty Mouse shape up to the competition? And what will Mac addicts think of the biggest revolution in Apple computing since… well, since they bought that Logitech multi-button mouse four years ago?
Despite the Mac operating system featuring Windows-style contextual menus since last millennium, the Mighty Mouse is Apple's first input device to feature multiple buttons. Until now, Mac users have had hold down the 'alt' key while clicking. Now they no longer have to – but, never ones to admit a mistake, Apple's design team have ensured the new mouse still appears to only have one button.
Hidden beneath the Mighty Mouse's elegant monocoque are two touch-sensitive pads - press the left part and you get a left click, press the right and, you've guessed it, you'll get a right click. Unless your forefinger is still touching the left hand side of the shell, that is. For some bizarre reason, you need to remove all pressure from the left before clicking on the right – which sounds like a right pain, but in practice is more a quirk than an annoyance.
The Mighty Mouse has two more hidden buttons - squeeze its midriff for one, and press its nipple (stop sniggering at the back) for the other. With the Tiger operating system, these two actions will usefully turn on Exposé and Dashboard respectively, but you can define other actions if you wish - after you've installed the driver (something us Mac users aren't used to doing).
Now, back to that nipple - the only cosmetic change from the previous, single-button Mac Mouse. This is a scrollball - the bastard child of the scrollwheel found on most modern mice, and the trackballs of Marble Madness-era arcade machines. It's easy to use and allows you to scroll left and right as well as up and down - fantastic news if you spend a lot of time photoshopping your friend’s faces onto pornstars’ bodies, as we do. Apple's website claims you can also scroll diagonally, but we're yet to work out how.
Having been one of the first computer manufacturers to adopt optical sensors, there’s a odd sense of circularity in Apple’s reinvention of the mouse. Is it ironic that they’ve added a ball to the device they castrated all those years ago? We’ll have to give Alanis Morissette a call to find out.
As we've come to expect from Apple, this latest gadget is a masterful and innovative meeting of form and function. Less expectedly, it comes with a Windows driver too. But is it really going to be a match for the ergonomic marvels from Logitech and Microsoft? We think its unlikely, even at the appealing £35 price point. For one, it doesn't look functional, even though it is. For two, it's still got a tail - and anyone in the market for a mouse these days will surely be wowed by the wireless option. We certainly were.
And yet we've packed away our old Bluetooth mouse, because we're so tired of changing the batteries. In fact, there's a significant anti-wireless-mouse backlash at Stuff Towers right now – and it seems Mighty Mouse has come to save us. Whether it will be gnarly enough to convince the masses remains to be seen - but we suspect Apple may need to add a few more whizzes and bangs before it comes up with the iPod of input devices.
So, bring on the Apple Danger Mouse…