Cat, meet the outside of the bag. Hey folks, remember all those tantalizing little clues about a possible Apple-branded wireless keyboard and mouse emerging soonish? Specifically, we're referring to the price cuts on existing Apple input devices last month, Power Mac G5 order summaries explicitly listing a "Keyboard Wired" and a "Wired Mouse," and the presence of a Bluetooth tab in the Keyboard and Mouse preferences pane in developer releases of Panther. Pretty convincing stuff, right? Clearly Apple expects to ship a wireless keyboard and mouse combo any day now.
Except that all of those clues can be explained away; the price cuts might have been a simple reaction to sagging demand or reduced parts costs, the unusually precise wording on the order summaries may have been the result of a recent Apple memo on the "Merits and Potential Tax Benefits of Suspiciously Thorough Product Descriptions," and the apparent Bluetooth support in Panther may have been included simply for the benefit of third party products. (After all, Mac OS X has had support for multiple mouse buttons for years, now, and you don't see a two-button mouse from Apple yet, do you? Do you?! Yeah, that's what we thought. Punk.) So if you're willing to lean a little to the Scully side of the bell curve, you can easily dismiss all that "evidence" as inconclusive.
But the latest proof isn't so easily ignored. Thanks to MacRumors, we found out about a couple of very interesting latest-build Panther screenshots over at ChaosMint. It seems that if you actually activate the Bluetooth mouse feature and you don't have a Bluetooth mouse handy, Panther spits out a very informative error message: "If you are using an Apple Wireless Mouse, slide the cover on the bottom of the mouse to expose the LED." Similarly, if you try to enable Bluetooth keyboard mode without a compatible device, Panther tells you that "if you are using an Apple Wireless Keyboard, move the switch on the back of the keyboard towards the LED." Go ahead, just try and discredit that-- if you dare!!
So what have we learned, here, kids? Well, product names, for one thing, plus a couple of physical characteristics-- the mouse has a sliding cover on its underside, while the back of the keyboard has a switch and an LED. Also, there's some evidence of a potentially serious product limitation, here: apparently you'll get an error if you try to use Apple's wireless keyboard and mouse unless you actually have them, which we consider to be a real letdown; we're not sure if that's a shortcoming of the keyboard and mouse themselves or of Panther's support for them, but we were really hoping that we could use them without, you know, actually going out and buying them. Maybe in 10.4.
Oh, and for those of you who are still obsessing over the possibility that the new wireless mouse might finally have more than one lonely button, unfortunately there's no news on that front; if the product's name were "Apple Wireless Three-Button Mouse With Scrollwheel And Citrus Zester" we might be able to make some reasonable assumptions about any additional features, but as things stand, what we can tell you for absolutely sure is that the Apple Wireless Mouse is 1) a mouse, 2) wireless, and 3) made by Apple. Admit it-- you're awfully impressed with our deductive reasoning abilities, aren't you? Autographs are twelve bucks.