October 2010. An already somewhat haggard Steve Jobs made a small introduction to what would be Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. His voice and aura were still intact, and although he did not reveal it then, this was the beginning of a new era for Apple trackpads.
That version of the operating system introduced for the first time the concept of scrolling or natural scroll, an option that worked just the opposite of how it had done for decades on our PCs and laptops. That created a debate that is still open today, and in fact the way in which one scrolls with the trackpad or the mouse wheel has created two clear features: that of those who prefer the natural scroll and that of those who prefer (we prefer) the scroll of a lifetime.
Are you naturally scrolling or are you reverse scrolling?
That october 2010 Also in attendance were both Tim Cook and a nervous Craig Federighi (Look at her fingers on the mouse in the demo in the video below, she was making her debut in keynotes), but even then there was not even talk about that curious new option: we would find out about it later, at WWDC in June, when we could see for the first time the preferences box dedicated to that characteristic.
That actually went unnoticed by many users because during the Mac OS X Lion presentation in June 2011 Apple – with Phil Schiller taking the controls of the speech – talked more about another tricky topic: they hid the scroll bars, which for those responsible did not make sense except as a reference when one moved through a document.
That changed over time — the bars were present again, albeit thin and in shades of gray — but what remained is that option to choose or not the natural displacement according to which “the content follows the movement of the finger.”
If we scrolled down the finger, the content scrolled down. If we did it upwards, the content would scroll in that direction. Natural, ¿no?
Apple’s decision was shocking for the vast majority of users. For many, that of the natural scroll was subjective, but actually the problem with natural scrolling is that it forced us to change our habits, and you already know: that they change the way we do things we don’t like. It didn’t take long to see how they appeared tools to invest that option, although later anyone could use it or not to their liking.
The concept introduced by Apple had a favorable and probably appropriate name, and it ended up becoming the active option by default on all Apple computers.
The idea, as Jobs explained in that October 2010 presentation, was carry some of the iPad options —Who had just been born a few months ago— al MacMaximized windows, multi-touch gestures and another of the great novelties of that version: the App Store for Mac OS X.
How they explained en Tedium, the arrival of multi-touch gestures to Mac OS X was for Jobs the optimal way to combine the best of the iPad with the best of the Mac. Some thought even then that maybe a MacBook with a touch screen would be a good idea, but Jobs made it clear that this was not the idea at Apple:
We have thought about this for years. We’ve done tons of user testing on this and it turns out it doesn’t work. Touch surfaces don’t want to be vertical.
That idea makes for a great demo, but after a short time, you start to get tired, and after a while your arm wants to collapse.
It does not work. It is ergonomically terrible. Touch surfaces want to be horizontal, hence the tablets.
The truth is the concept, which was totally intuitive on mobiles and tablets, was not so intuitive for those who had used a mouse or a touchpad for years: in Windows, Mac OS X or Linux, the “natural” sense of scrolling was just the opposite.
Intuitive or not, the idea ended up curdling in such a way that this option for natural scrolling ended up being part of all these operating systems, which now usually give the option of activating or not that natural scroll in the preferences of their touch panels.
Microsoft evidently never applied that name, and it only talks about “Direction of travel”. The option is available in the case of having a laptop with a touchpad, but if you want to invest it in Windows 10 by operating the mouse wheel, you have to go to the registry editor.
It remains to be seen whether the new generations, much more used to dealing with a finger on a mobile or tablet than with a mouse, they will end up adopting that natural displacement in their PCs and laptops to imitate the behavior of their mobile devices.
I, for my part, I’ll keep disabling that option and using the “lifetime” scroll. And now it’s time to ask you, dear reader, about ‘Don’t step on me, I’m wearing flip-flops’. You know:
Happy New Year!