Will you lose the keyboard? One of the benefits of looking at the patent claims of a corporation is to find out where the future looks. This is probably the case with Apple’s new MacBook patent.
In a patent named “Device Having integrated Interface System,” the latest knowledge is included. Apple defines a laptop using a touch-based lower surface instead of a traditional keyboard in this continuation patent. Patently Apple, Jack Purcher sees it more closely:
“With this next-gen MacBook having a glass input surface, it also means that the MacBook could take on entirely different features beyond the keyboard and trackpad … It could potentially provide users with a game-control interface while playing a video game. It could provide DJs with a touch-based turntable and audio controls. It can offer video editors with an interface that could take advantage of the video game interface.”
This all is sexy, but what about good old fashioned typing? o Putting aside the concept of a completely touchscreen-based keyboard (even though there are various consumables used to type on a tablet or smartphone screen only), the patent indicates that a thin physical keyboard may be mounted over the touch-enabled surface. This will physically translate the typing motions on the touchscreen below; a technique that Purcher notes would be used throughout the upcoming Surface Neo However, this is something that can be seen back in the history of mobile devices (2000’s Ericsson R380 being an early example).
Curiously, the upcoming iPhone 12 family will be fitted with a magnet ring on the back of the device, believing that this will help direct the handset to a wireless charger. Maybe anyone at Apple has a certain magnet attraction?
As well as the touch interface, the patent also states the use of reverse wireless charging, with the region where the wrists will usually be able to charge properly fitted devices, such as the Apple Watch or the iPhone, possibly when the laptop is not in use.
Of course, no proprietary technology can be expected to hit the market, and even if it is unlikely to be seen in the very next publication. This is definitely the case with this ‘keyboardless’ MacBook. What patents show is what a company is working on and developing. In the case of Apple, a complete touch sensitive region is not out of the question. After all, the function keys have already been replaced with the touch bar on MacBook Pro computers, so why not go all the way?
What is more likely is a MacBook where the entire area below the keyboard is protected by this touch-sensitive surface; possibly with a display underneath, wireless reverse charging, or both.