Forget The New MacBook Pro, Apple Has Something Better

    Apple’s MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops have ripped up the form book on benchmarking when they were launched in 2020 but they rarely started away from a traditional laptop design. In fact, they were almost identical to the Intel-based laptops that hadn’t changed since 2016.

    New documents from Apple suggest that the MacBook team are working on some radical ideas for future macOS laptops.

    The details come in several updates to recent patents published this week; “Concealable Input Region For An Electronic Device”, and “Deployable Key Mouse”.

    The first covers the body of the laptop. By switching away from the metal casing that many are familiar with to a glass construction; Apple already uses a glass trackpad so you can see that to the eye there would be little change. But the glass used here can feature micro-perforations, and behind those perforations can be a series of tiny lights that can act as a “hidden display”.

    Throw in the ability to pick up touch across these display areas and you can have any part of the surface of the laptop act in a similar way to the Touch Bar. The promise of lat surfaces that look solid, but can suddenly have icons or buttons appear, is an attractive one.

    The second feels a little more futuristic and perhaps geared more towards a portable keyboard for the likes of the iPad Pro or an updated Magic Keyboard. This would allow a single key, or a block of keys, to be lifted out or slid away from the keyboard to act as a pointing device. Imagine lifting out one of your sift keys to find that it’s really a small mouse, or a rather stubby Apple Pencil… Given space is at a premium in any modern mobile device, you can see the advantage of having something physical have two different physical roles.

    As with any patents, the fact that they have been published does not guarantee that any of the discussed features will make it to the public. What you can see is the direction that Apple is taking in terms of design thinking, especially as these are continuation patents which show continued work on an idea.

    In practice though, you have to look at the current MacBook Air and entry-level MacBook Pro and realise that these designs are six years old. Apple made a step forward with its laptop design when it released the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models in 2021, introducing larger screens (thanks to smaller bezels) and a more angular design.

    When the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models are launched later this year, they are expected to bring over the changes from the larger Pro laptops. Will there be more?

    It’s only right to wait and see.

    Now read the latest Mac, iPhone, and iPad headlines in Forbes’ weekly Apple Loop column…

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