Since the Mac OS X 10.4.8 update, it is possible to zoom in and out of the screen, using the shortcut Control + Mouse wheel. This used to be Bluetooth Mighty Mouse – only, but it’s now available to everyone – it even works on Apple laptops like the powerbook (using the trackpad two-fingers scrolling feature). After using it for a while, it seems like this feature has a lot of non-obvious potential : You can zoom in Youtube videos (or any tiny web video), you can zoom on text pages when the text is too small, or zoom on tasks that require your full attention or require lots of precision. Of course, all of this was possible BEFORE, using for example the “zoom in text” feature of Safari – HOWEVER, the important thing here is how this feature is incredibly intuitive. Everybody understands how it works and what to do – hold this key, and there you go, flying closer to or further away from the screen. After watching me do it a couple of times, my wife is happily zooming every time an on-screen feature is too small. And there’s no weird side-effects, like the web page rearranging itself – it just works.
I’m not sure if it’s obvious enough, so I’ll just put it bluntly : Increasing text height in web pages while retaining the overall look and feel of the page is an issue that has been plaguing web designers for years now (do we zoom the images as well ? what about the UI elements ? how do we re-arrange the page fast enough ?). This built-in-the-OS zoom feature has solved the problem elegantly, and simultaneously made the “zoom in web page” function obsolete. Now all we need is a vector-based approach so the zoom is not pixelated… which is coming up in Leopard. See how it all fits together?