I saw the future in a dream last week, and it was beautiful.
It was the night before the new Apple iMac M3 showed up for review, and like the dull, dreary man I am I was dreaming about work.
In my work dream the iMac arrived, so I unboxed it and immediately started fooling around to see what the new Apple M3 chip onboard could do. As plugged it in and touched my fingers to the screen macOS Sonoma flared to life. Apps, windows and widgets flew beneath my fingers as I effortlessly navigated across the beautiful canvas that is the iMac's 24-inch 4.5K display.
With but a tap I could bring up the new Widgets menu and start plopping my clock, weather and to-do list widgets down on the desktop wherever I pleased. I could connect a controller to play Steam games or tap my way through my favorite iOS games from Apple's App Store with equal abandon, then effortlessly fire up iMovie to start cutting clips or dip into Photoshop to work on some recent photo touch-ups. Truly, this was living.
Then, I woke up.
I got to work as usual, and when the iMac M3 arrived I dutifully unboxed it and set it up on my desk, just like in my dream. I plugged it in, fired it up and when the time came to start tapping and sliding my way through the set-up process — I was absolutely flummoxed to find there's no touchscreen on the new iMac.
In fact, there has never been a touchscreen on the iMac. Apple never even teased the possibility. Heck not once, in human history, has Apple ever shipped a Mac with a touchscreen.
And yet I was convinced that when the iMac M3 showed up it would have a 24-inch touchscreen, just like its predecessor. The magnitude of that mistake is even more impressive when you consider that I'm the one who conducted our Apple iMac M1 review two years ago, so I should know better than most what that machine can do.
But in the days since we published my iMac M3 review I can't stop thinking about how much better a computer it would be if it sported a touchscreen. I didn't criticize the machine for this in the review because it wasn't fair to complain about a missing feature that never existed, but I can say that I'd be a lot more interested in owning an iMac if it had a touchscreen.
I've been covering Macs for decades, but I’ve never bought one myself. I’m not dogmatic about it, I just don’t like them because, like so many of us, I learned Windows first—and I never made the effort to understand how to use macOS as effectively.
But even if I'm a little slower on Macs than I am on Windows machines, I can appreciate what makes them such great computers. Even if we ignore the remarkable achievements of Apple silicon, which make MacBooks the best laptops for battery life on the market, there’s a lot to recommend Mac these days.
But as much as I appreciate Macs, and as much as I like the new iMac M3, I can't imagine owning one without a touchscreen. Maybe I really am dreaming, but just imagine the potential of a desktop Mac you can tap to navigate like a giant iPad.
Of course I don't have to imagine, because I use Windows PCs all the time and there have been touchscreen Windows laptops and monitors for ages. I already know how nice it feels to pick your hands up off the keyboard occasionally to just tap the link you want to visit, or flick an image to scroll to the next one in a gallery. It's not the way I want to use my PC all the time, but having access to a touchscreen makes the process of using a computer feel a lot more accessible, comfortable and enjoyable to me.
Apple silicon is even more reason to put a touchscreen on Macs because it allows them to run apps off the iOS and iPadOS app stores. That means you can play your favorite iPad games on the iMac's luscious 24-inch 4.5K display, which sounds amazing—except you have to play them with a keyboard and mouse/trackpad. Imagine instead if you could finish up work for the day and play a bit more of your favorite iPad game in glorious 4K, or let your kid tap their way through a few rounds of Among Us on the iMac after school.
It's a beautiful dream, one that could become a reality since we keep hearing that Apple could be working on touchscreen MacBooks, with a touchscreen MacBook Pro tipped to arrive as early as 2025.
If and when they do arrive, I'll be sorely tempted to jump ship and see what life's like on the macOS bandwagon. I like macOS Sonoma as much as Windows 11 by now, so if Macs progress to the point where I can get as much useful functionality from them as I get from Windows 11 machines, I'd be hard-pressed to see a reason why I should stick with Windows instead of following my dreams.