First Look: Apple's wireless, multitouch Magic Mouse

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
Apple has broken its decade-long chain of terrible mouse designs with the new multitouch, wireless Magic Mouse, although its multitouch features are somewhat limited in functionality.



If previous versions of Apple's Bluetooth wireless mice and the sticky trackball of the Mighty Mouse have left you skeptical of the company's ability to design a desirable mouse, you may be in for a surprise with the new Magic Mouse.



There's no real magic; just a highly accurate laser optical mouse paired with a hard plastic, multitouch surface that supports smooth document scrolling, right clicking, screen zoom, and two finger swipes.



Given that Apple has pioneered practical applications of multitouch technologies in consumer products, you might have high hopes for the new mouse's multitouch surface. While scrolling up and down and left and right is smooth and satisfying, the surface of the mouse isn't big enough to act like a trackpad, so don't expect it to act like one.







Unlike Apple's multitouch trackpads, there's no provisions for touching to click (which makes little sense on a mouse), or for fancy gestures like four finger expose. You'd be hard pressed to even get four fingers in contact with the mouse's surface at once. Instead of trying to make a mouse with a conventional trackpad surface, Apple has delivered a usable Mighty Mouse that primarily uses touch sensitivity in place of a scroll ball.



Touch to scroll



This part works very well; there's no small ball to target, so you can freely move your fingers anywhere on the surface to scroll within documents. You can even scroll by touch without the mouse making any contact on a surface. There's also an option for scrolling with momentum, which provides a little scrolling inertia when you flick, similar to the iPhone.



Scrolling within documents or menus (such as the slides list in Keynote) seems appropriately accelerated at the default speed setting. However, trying to scroll within Cover Flow requires subtle finger action, because the touch surface is tremendously sensitive (and Cover Flow exaggerates this sensitivity). Your first attempt to scroll in iTunes will likely whip you through a couple hundred albums. With some practice and patience, you'll be able to scroll album by album with finger motions that seem almost imperceptible.



Multitouch gestures



Apple didn't overload the Magic Mouse with excessive shortcuts, so there's little to learn. Here's where the assumption that this thing works like a trackpad or Wacom tablet will fall flat. It's not either; it's just a mouse. You can't paint on the surface, there's no triple finger gestures, and you also can't pinch zoom or dial with your fingers to rotate. While Apple might explore additional features later, it's not hard to see why things are kept pretty tame: it's simply hard to keep the mouse positioned when doing fancy touch operations on its surface.



Like the previous Mighty Mouse, you can configure right clicking (or secondary left clicking, if you're left handed) to access contextual menus. This seems to work flawlessly and intuitively.



Scrolling also works well; you don't really have to distinguish between one and two fingers when scrolling; if you're scrolling up and down, any number of fingers will work. If you've configured two finger swipe, then there's a difference between momentum scrolling left and right with one finger and using two fingers to flick right or left to navigate one step at a time, but the use of two fingers is almost awkward enough to make these two gestures seem completely different.



Two finger flick for navigation allows you to move a slide at a time in Keynote, but don't plan on using the mouse to do this during a presentation. The iPhone makes a much better handheld navigator. Two finger flicks also work in iPhoto to move between photos, but again, this gesture is a little awkward, almost to the point of being a novelty. You might want to do it occasionally, but it tires the fingers quickly.



Another novelty is screen zoom. This requires hitting a modifier key, which is users selectable to be Option, Command, or Control. But how often will you want to zoom into the screen? It's nice you can, and Apple provides a number of options related to this, but apart from showing off or corner cases like zooming into an unresizeable web video to present it full screen, this doesn't seem to be very practical.



Magic Mouse as a mouse



Unlike the downright fat mouse designs that Apple has sold since it got rid of the USB yoyo/hockey puck mouse, the new Magic Mouse is compact to the point of almost being flat. It doesn't feel to be much thicker than the iPhone, thanks in part to its sculpted curves.







The metal base rises up on either side to provide a strong but not sharp edge. This makes the mouse easy to grip and not slippery feeling like earlier models, which were all one piece of shiny plastic. This results in a satisfying feel that's easy to position accurately. The base sits on two hard plastic strips that act like sled runners to keep the sculpted unit in flat contact with the surface it sits on.







Unlike Apple's previous Bluetooth mice, the new Magic Mouse doesn't feel too heavy, despite also using two AA batteries. It has a solid weight to it, but its compact design makes it feel well balanced rather than bulbous and unnaturally weighted as before.



The mouse comes with batteries included and even installed. To replace them, a thin metal cover pops off to reveal the battery compartment. Also on the underside surface is a solid-feeling metal switch to power it off and an indicator lamp that shows its on.







Apple still sells its old wired Mighty Mouse under the new name Apple Mouse, and the new Magic Mouse is only available in the wireless version. Why no wired version? Well it might not be feasible to make a cheaper version, and there's really no drawback to its use of Bluetooth, unlike earlier models which seemed too heavy when carrying the necessary batteries.



Magic Mouse software



If you have a Bluetooth enabled Mac, all you need to do is turn the mouse on and select it from the Bluetooth Setup Assistant. Unless you bought it bundled with a new Mac, you'll probably also need to install the new Magic Mouse software, which shows up in System Preferences after you attach it. installing this requires a system restart for some reason.



Once installed however, you get a fresh new System Preferences icon for Mouse settings, and within that pane you get the new options for setting your preferences.







Magic Mouse in Review



If you're looking for a replacement mouse, you are likely to really like the new Magic Mouse as a mouse, and its scrolling features are very smooth and practical. Don't expect to get crazy with lots of complex multitouch gestures however, because it isn't designed to do that.



If you like mice with lots of programmable buttons you're also out of luck. This mouse is intended to be simple and intuitive.



Rating 4 out of 5







Pros:

Highly accurate tracking

Great feel, weight and styling

Effortless scrolling and contextual click features



Cons:

No excessively fancy multitouch gestures or extra buttons



Where to Buy

MacMall - $66.94

ClubMac - $66.94

Amazon.com - $69.99
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Comments

  • kolchakkolchak Posts: 1,398member
    Oh, well. I was hoping that Apple would finally give me something to replace my old iGesture tablet, but they don't seem to have their hearts completely in MultiTouch yet. I'll stick with the iGesture.
  • postulantpostulant Posts: 1,270member
    Sweet... mine arrives today.
  • blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,284member
    I got mine yesterday, and I have to say I don't recommend it at this point. I'll try it out a bit longer, but I might go back to my old MightyMouse. The plus side is that it's better for scrolling, since you don't have to worry about that little trackball getting gunked up on the MightyMouse. But that's just about the only benefit. The huge downside from my perspective is the loss of the ability to use spaces and expose from the mouse. I LOVED that ability on the MightyMouse. Without the ability to activate spaces and expose from the mouse, those two features (which I think are two of the most compelling interface advantages of OSX) become much less accessible. Of course, Apple can fix this problem -- implement multi-finger clicks or other gestures and then let us assign those to expose/spaces. I just hope apple does that (or a third party figures out how to do it -- I'm looking at you QuicKeys people!)



    Finally, two corrections to the appleinsider review:



    (1) the ability to zoom with the mouse is not new. You could do that using the scroll ball on the MightyMouse combined with the exact same modifier key options as now.



    (2) I'm getting a little tired of reading how zooming is a useless or novelty feature. I have a nontrivial vision impairment and I depend on zooming everytime I use my Mac. It's another one of those things that makes me really like my Mac (the "magnifier" in Windows isn't nearly as useful, in my opinion). Also, I suspect that many older users whose vision might be deteriorating would also find this feature very useful. It's a shame that this reviewer has such a narrow perspective. My only wish is that Apple would implement resolution independence and combine that with the zoom feature, so that when things are zoomed they stay super-crisp).
  • benroethigbenroethig Posts: 2,782member
    The good thing though is that this mouse is pretty much a collection of pressure sensors. In theory, Apple can make adjustments and add things that they left out with software patches. This is on my future wishlist. I just want a couple thing corrected first.
  • quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,566member
    I love my Mighty Mouse. When it works, it's a dream. And knock on wood, it's been working great since June. I clean the ball now and then (it's easy), but for the most part it hasn't really gotten too gunked up.



    This Magic Mouse had better be just that . . . magic.
  • ronboronbo Posts: 669member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post


    The huge downside from my perspective is the loss of the ability to use spaces and expose from the mouse. I LOVED that ability on the MightyMouse. Without the ability to activate spaces and expose from the mouse, those two features (which I think are two of the most compelling interface advantages of OSX) become much less accessible.



    I use Expose a lot. But I personally found it easier to invoke with a pointer in the lower left corner of the screen, so I disabled the MM 4th-button thing. (Plus I go back and forth between a desktop with a MM and a laptop, so a unified function was better for me anyhow).



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post


    (1) the ability to zoom with the mouse is not new. You could do that using the scroll ball on the MightyMouse combined with the exact same modifier key options as now.



    (2) I'm getting a little tired of reading how zooming is a useless or novelty feature. I have a nontrivial vision impairment and I depend on zooming everytime I use my Mac. It's another one of those things that makes me really like my Mac (the "magnifier" in Windows isn't nearly as useful, in my opinion). Also, I suspect that many older users whose vision might be deteriorating would also find this feature very useful. It's a shame that this reviewer has such a narrow perspective. My only wish is that Apple would implement resolution independence and combine that with the zoom feature, so that when things are zoomed they stay super-crisp).



    Agreed. I use this feature all the time. It's easily engaged and enormously useful. They aren't advertising this feature because it's new. They're advertising it because it's cool and most people apparently don't know about it. Case in point, eh?
  • jparkerjparker Posts: 4member
    Our family uses zooming everyday. We've got a MacPro driving a 40" 1080p TV serving as the DVR and also serving apple lossless iTunes music to the whole house. The zoom feature makes this possible by allowing you to sit on the other side of the room on the couch and still see what you are doing. As more people use a Mac (or PC) as a media server they will realize how important this is.



    (The bluetooth keyboard and mouse are critical too! ;-)
  • blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,284member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jparker View Post


    Our family uses zooming everyday. We've got a MacPro driving a 40" 1080p TV serving as the DVR and also serving apple lossless iTunes music to the whole house. The zoom feature makes this possible by allowing you to sit on the other side of the room on the couch and still see what you are doing. As more people use a Mac (or PC) as a media server they will realize how important this is.



    (The bluetooth keyboard and mouse are critical too! ;-)



    A Mac Pro as a media server? Wow -- that's some serious firepower! But I agree with you -- we have a Mac Mini hooked up to our TV (my Mac Pro is in the office upstairs), and the zoom feature is tremendously useful there for the very reason that you cite.
  • djames42djames42 Posts: 298member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Another novelty is screen zoom. This requires hitting a modifier key, which is users selectable to be Option, Command, or Control. But how often will you want to zoom into the screen? It's nice you can, and Apple provides a number of options related to this, but apart from showing off or corner cases like zooming into an unresizeable web video to present it full screen, this doesn't seem to be very practical.



    You'd be surprised. I use this feature a lot. At home when watching flash video I use this to coax content into full screen (neat trick, hit L to highlight the URL field, then hit space and the mouse cursor will go away).



    Its real use is at the office though where I use it to show co-workers something I'm working on. I can magnify text so people can see it without coming up to the screen. I use that feature quite frequently.
  • blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,284member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ronbo View Post


    I use Expose a lot. But I personally found it easier to invoke with a pointer in the lower left corner of the screen, so I disabled the MM 4th-button thing. (Plus I go back and forth between a desktop with a MM and a laptop, so a unified function was better for me anyhow).



    Good point. I am trying the lower left and right corners as hot points for expose and spaces right now. I'll see if I like that or not. If I don't get used to it, I'll switch back to my old mouse.
  • kasakkakasakka Posts: 55member
    The two biggest drawbacks I see with this thing is that it has no middle click. I use middle click all the time to open links in new tabs in the background etc.



    But a far bigger problem is that you're most likely stuck with Apple's abysmal mouse acceleration. Correct me if I'm wrong. I can't stand it, feels like the cursor is plowing thru mud.



    I rarely use zooming but IMO the Ctrl + mouse wheel works great. If OSX had real resolution independence zooming would be mostly unnecessary though...
  • quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post


    Good point. I am trying the lower left and right corners as hot points for expose and spaces right now. I'll see if I like that or not. If I don't get used to it, I'll switch back to my old mouse.



    That's what I have. But it only really works well IMHO if you have tracking set high, meaning NOT OS X's native tracking, but something like what USB Overdrive offers. I can't use a mouse in OS X without USB Overdrive. OS X's native tracking is dog slow, although I think it can be tweaked via the Terminal and there are also a few utilites out there that can help (other than full mouse utilities like USB Overdrive and SteerMouse.)
  • somynonasomynona Posts: 40member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Another novelty is screen zoom. This requires hitting a modifier key, which is users selectable to be Option, Command, or Control. But how often will you want to zoom into the screen? It's nice you can, and Apple provides a number of options related to this, but apart from showing off or corner cases like zooming into an unresizeable web video to present it full screen, this doesn't seem to be very practical.



    This is actually the thing I'm looking forward to the most. I don't know how many times I've found myself wanting to zoom in on a column of text like I can with the iPhone.
  • super8seansuper8sean Posts: 70member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Somynona View Post


    This is actually the thing I'm looking forward to the most. I don't know how many times I've found myself wanting to zoom in on a column of text like I can with the iPhone.



    Its a great mouse dont get it twisted, but no expose and random screen movements when u dont mean to move the screen are annoying.

    Other than that its a great mouse.

    Please fix the expose feature( Three fingers activate expose maybe???) That idea was free of charge

    p.s Quit pissing google off apple. want the new google map it looks sick!!!
  • ghostface147ghostface147 Posts: 1,629member
    No thanks. I want a wired version (not going to happen) and I want to middle click. I also want activation for expose on the mouse, which may or may not show up in a future software patch.
  • somynonasomynona Posts: 40member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Apple still sells its old wired Mighty Mouse under the new name Apple Mouse, and the new Magic Mouse is only available in the wireless version. Why no wired version? Well it might not be feasible to make a cheaper version, and there's really no drawback to its use of Bluetooth, unlike earlier models which seemed too heavy when carrying the necessary batteries.



    Are you kidding! The drawbacks are constantly having to change batteries and lost connectivity (and all the irritation that can result from fluffing about with reconnecting and not being able to control your computer).



    This will be especially bad in our office. We have over and dozen Macs and I don't fancy managing all the batteries for keyboard and mice.



    Apple should make the keyboard and mouse dockable, to recharge when not in use.
  • sheffsheff Posts: 1,407member
    I played with the mouse at the Apple store and its a no go for me. I am sticking with the Mighty Mouse. This thing is just too flat, and would hurt my wrist after a long period of continuous use.



    That said I really love the no scroll ball scrolling, in my view that is the future for all mice. If only they made this one as tall (as in not flat) as the mighty mouse...
  • zindakozindako Posts: 468member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kolchak View Post


    Oh, well. I was hoping that Apple would finally give me something to replace my old iGesture tablet, but they don't seem to have their hearts completely in MultiTouch yet. I'll stick with the iGesture.



    I got mine last night, omg I am loving it, good game apple, job well done.
  • hillstoneshillstones Posts: 1,490member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post


    The plus side is that it's better for scrolling, since you don't have to worry about that little trackball getting gunked up on the MightyMouse. But that's just about the only benefit. The huge downside from my perspective is the loss of the ability to use spaces and expose from the mouse.



    The main benefit is the scrolling feature. No more moving parts, so the scrolling will always work. I could care less about Spaces and Expose, and I don't use either. I think it is a very small percentage of people that actually do. Both Expose and Spaces are eye-candy. I have no problem using Command-Tab to rotate applications. I don't need Expose to tile windows on the screen and I don't need to hide programs using Spaces.
  • quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kolchak View Post


    Oh, well. I was hoping that Apple would finally give me something to replace my old iGesture tablet, but they don't seem to have their hearts completely in MultiTouch yet. I'll stick with the iGesture.



    Kolchak . . . as in, the Night Stalker?
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