One of the things emphasized with the upcoming iPhone is the multi-touch user-interface. A few weeks ago Microsoft let me get hands on with their new Surface Computing product and vision. Again this multi-touch user interface came up. Multi-touch in essence is the ability to use more then one finger on a touch screen to navigate and or manipulate objects. Apple uses the multi-touch concept with the photo example. Where you could use two finger to “pinch” a photo and make it larger or smaller. Microsoft showed a similar example on their multi-touch interface to rotate objects as well as expand or contract them.
After playing with both the iPhone and Microsoft’s surface computer I am convinced as I believe many others are as well that the multi-touch user interface is the thing that will put physical mice and keyboards into history museums. One of the reasons I believe this is because of the thinking and approach of both Apple and Microsoft on the subject. When you start asking how can I provide a compelling and rich computing experience without a physical mouse and keyboard. This is exactly what these companies are starting to do.
The Microsoft surface computer went much farther then the iPhone purely because it has a larger screen. Microsoft showed not just multi-touch but multi-person touch. They examples they showed around how a surface could be used in a restaurant was a terrific example of this. Apple will clearly continue to innovate as well and I predict will bring multi-touch even multi-user touch to the consumer home before Microsoft does with Surface computing.
None the less when you see the demo or get hands on with the technology either with the iPhone or retail surface computers Microsoft will have available in the fall you will see how multi-touch couples with speech recognition may render keyboard and mice a thing of the past.