Apple's renowned attention to detail led designers to fret over the sound of sliding new Magic Mouse

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited October 2015
Designers at Apple spent months time and considerable effort to create the perfect sound heard when gliding the new Magic Mouse 2 across a desk -- a small but crucial element of the product, and yet another example of how the company focuses on all details.




Apple gave a rare glimpse into its design process by opening up the doors to its Input Design Lab to journalist Steven Levy. The resulting feature published by Backchannel goes into detail on how Apple's latest products unveiled on Tuesday -- including an iMac refresh, Magic Mouse 2, Magic Keyboard, and Magic Trackpad 2 -- all came to market.

And while the new Magic Mouse 2 appears externally to have the fewest changes of the new accessories, Apple had to completely redesign the internal components to give the Bluetooth accessory a rechargeable battery. That process, though, drastically changed the sound the mouse makes when a user moves it.

By changing the foot architecture and mass of the Magic Mouse 2, the "friction characteristics of the sound" were modified, according to Kate Bergeron, Apple vice president for Ecosystem Products and Technologies. Apple's designers just weren't happy with the new sound, and spent months working to fix it.

"They all make a noise --?the question is getting a noise we like," John Ternus, vice president of Mac, iPad, Ecosystem and Audio Engineering told Levy. "It sounded... not right."




Fixing the problem required advanced machinery inside Apple's labs capable of testing seemingly any scenario imaginable. In examples cited by Levy, Apple has machines that measure the friction a mouse will experience on different types of surfaces, and machines that can pinpoint exactly where a noise is coming from with a device.

Apple found that the approach used on the first-generation Magic Mouse didn't work for the new Magic Mouse 2. The company reshaped the "high density polyethylene feet" on the wireless accessory, causing less surface contact as the mouse glides.

A similarly detailed process went into development of the new Magic Keyboard, as Apple's team revealed that one prototype of the device featured larger keys. Bergeron admitted to Levy that that design may have been "more extreme than it needed to be."

Apple says the Magic Mouse 2 features a lighter and sturdier construction, and it describes the accessory as having a "smoother glide" thanks to an "optimized foot design." Of course, that's thanks to the work of Bergeron, Ternus, and the team at the company's Input Design lab.




Magic Mouse 2 is lighter than its predecessor, and features fewer moving parts thanks to its built-in battery and continuous bottom shell. Like the previous model, it features a Multi-Touch surface, but it does not offer Force Touch input like the Magic Trackpad or latest MacBooks.

The Magic Keyboard, meanwhile, features a full-size design while taking up 13 percent less space than its predecessor. It also features a new scissor mechanism on the keys, which are adorned with Apple's new San Francisco font.

Apple says the reengineered scissor mechanism increases key stability by 33 percent while also optimizing key travel.

They are joined by the new Magic Trackpad 2, which does allow for Force Touch input on Mac desktops. All three also feature Lightning ports for recharging their internal batteries.

The Magic Mouse 2 is priced at $79, the Magic Keyboard is $99, and the Magic Trackpad 2 is $129.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 121
    Having to place the mouse on its back to charge, is dumber than dumb. Here's a dumbass question: how hard would it have been for Apple to put the Lightening port on the front, so that when you had to charge the mouse, you could also use it?

    Steve Jobs said: design is not how things look, but how things work.
    K Dub
  • Reply 2 of 121
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,348member
    Obsession with details for the sake of user experience still lives on, four years after the departure of the Chief Product Officer.

    DNA transmission sucessful.
  • Reply 3 of 121
    I am glad to hear this. The last one was a poor design with the bottom often grinding across the desk and the battery compartment popping off.
  • Reply 4 of 121
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,348member
    Having to place the mouse on its back to charge, is dumber than dumb. Here's a dumbass question: how hard would it have been for Apple to put the Lightening port on the front, so that when you had to charge the mouse, you could also use it?

    Very hard, or maybe just stupid, or they would have done it.

    Or do you imagine that only you could think of it?

    Edit: Just unnecessary, as GQB points out below.
  • Reply 5 of 121
    gqbgqb Posts: 1,934member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post



    Having to place the mouse on its back to charge, is dumber than dumb. Here's a dumbass question: how hard would it have been for Apple to put the Lightening port on the front, so that when you had to charge the mouse, you could also use it?



     

    2 minutes for 8 hour charge.

    How long does it take to find and replace batteries?

    Use while plugged in would result in the inevitable 'god, how butt-ugly. Apple can't design its way out of a paper bag anymore' criticisms.

    This is a perfectly fine solution, and looks great as well.

    1st world problem.

  • Reply 6 of 121
    Having to place the mouse on its back to charge, is dumber than dumb. Here's a dumbass question: how hard would it have been for Apple to put the Lightening port on the front, so that when you had to charge the mouse, you could also use it?

    Steve Jobs said: design is not how things look, but how things work.

    I'd think a mag safe USB charging / data cable would be ideal, and it would attach to the front of the mouse so you could use it conventionally.

    I'm expecting a third party lightning "docking charger" to appear.
  • Reply 7 of 121
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,348member
    I am glad to hear this. The last one was a poor design with the bottom often grinding across the desk and the battery compartment popping off.

    The new one will grind too if you don't have a clean, smooth surface. I agree that the battery cover required some finesse to get latched, but within normal human range.
  • Reply 8 of 121
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,348member
    gqb wrote: »
    2 minutes for 8 hour charge.
    How long does it take to find and replace batteries?
    Use while plugged in would result in the inevitable 'god, how butt-ugly. Apple can't design its way out of a paper bag anymore' criticisms.
    This is a perfectly fine solution, and looks great as well.
    1st world problem.

    Good answer.
  • Reply 9 of 121
    thrangthrang Posts: 585member
    Now if they could please turn their attention to the Music app...
  • Reply 10 of 121
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,059member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post



    Having to place the mouse on its back to charge, is dumber than dumb. Here's a dumbass question: how hard would it have been for Apple to put the Lightening port on the front, so that when you had to charge the mouse, you could also use it?



    Steve Jobs said: design is not how things look, but how things work.




    I agree with this.... to spend months on finding the ideal sound as the mouse is used, but then cripple its usability when charging? That's bizarre!

  • Reply 11 of 121
    It's still a triumph of design over ergonomics. It looks good, but is a pain in the wrist to use.
  • Reply 12 of 121
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,059member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post



    Having to place the mouse on its back to charge, is dumber than dumb. Here's a dumbass question: how hard would it have been for Apple to put the Lightening port on the front, so that when you had to charge the mouse, you could also use it?

     



    I wonder if people will feel dirty "turning the mouse over and plugging in a cable"... sounds invasive to the poor mouse's privacy! <img class=" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies//lol.gif" /> 

  • Reply 13 of 121
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    coolfactor wrote: »

    I agree with this.... to spend months on finding the ideal sound as the mouse is used, but then cripple its usability when charging? That's bizarre!

    What? It takes 2 minutes to get a 9 hour charge. You seriously can't go 2 minutes without using it? Good grief. If people want to complain about something complain about the 5400 RPM, 1 TB hard drive. That is a joke in 2015.
  • Reply 14 of 121
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post





    I'd think a mag safe USB charging / data cable would be ideal, and it would attach to the front of the mouse so you could use it conventionally.



    I'm expecting a third party lightning "docking charger" to appear.

     

    They could've even made the mouse like the Watch with inductive charging, so that if you had to, you could charge on an inductive mousepad.

  • Reply 15 of 121
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    They could've even made the mouse like the Watch with inductive charging, so that if you had to, you could charge on an inductive mousepad.

    How long would it take the mouse to charge? Right now it's 2 minutes to get 9 hours of use.
  • Reply 16 of 121
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,059member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by CraigL303 View Post



    It's still a triumph of design over ergonomics. It looks good, but is a pain in the wrist to use.



    What would make it better? You have numerous other options, including those from third-parties. Just find the one that suits your needs best. But I do agree that Apple is lacking in the ergonomics department. Split keyboards have been proven to be far better for the wrists, and yet we haven't seen one from Apple in 20 years.

     

  • Reply 17 of 121
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    flaneur wrote: »
    Obsession with details for the sake of user experience still lives on, four years after the departure of the Chief Product Officer.

    DNA transmission sucessful.

    Shame about that 5400 RPM, 1TB hard drive though...
  • Reply 18 of 121
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member

    Ah, yes, such attention to detail ... months to get the sound just right.  Must be soothing comfort to the legion of people in the Apple support forums looking for help for the myriad ways their El Capitan upgrade has shafted them.  There are so many posts that only about one in 20 is getting an answer.

     

    A little more attention to detail in the OS department might be more appreciated than how swish a mouse sounds.

  • Reply 19 of 121
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    Having to place the mouse on its back to charge, is dumber than dumb. Here's a dumbass question: how hard would it have been for Apple to put the Lightening port on the front, so that when you had to charge the mouse, you could also use it?

    no. it takes two minutes to charge for 9 hours of use. it will take you longer to walk to the can and back.

    as for putting it on the front, if you had one or even just looked at it youll understand why -- the front & back is all glass, for the touchpad.

    i know you people think youre smarter than the most successful public CE firm in the history of our species, but youre not. just consider that for a moment before ranting.
  • Reply 20 of 121
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    I am glad to hear this. The last one was a poor design with the bottom often grinding across the desk and the battery compartment popping off.

    have not had that problem on the two i use regularly.
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