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In the last couple of days, a flurry of speculation has erupted over the rumor that the forthcoming MacBooks will feature glass, multi-touch trackpads. The comment that keeps getting made is that it makes no sense to have glass trackpads unless you need to see what’s underneath them, as in a little screen.

“Why would Apple do that?” people keep asking.

Isn’t it obvious? If Apple was going to make a MacBook Touch, would you really want to be touching the primary screen? No, it would get tedious, as my five days with an HP TouchSmart taught me. Plus, certain gestures are just awkward when trying to touch-control a vertical screen, including simple scrolling up.

Fine, so just use the touchpad then for multi-touch and gesture operations, right? But wait a second…won’t it get frustrating touching the touchpad and hitting the wrong area?

Not if the touchpad has a miniature version of the primary display underneath it.

You’ve now solved both problems: You get to use multi-touch / gestures on a horizontal surface, which is much more natural, and you eliminate the problem of mis-tracking your target. In fact, this seems like such a great idea that if the new Apple laptops aren’t set up this way, I’d be surprised if they’re not working on it for the next revision.

We’ll find out soon enough…