August 26, 2021 8:26:54 am
Apple won a new patent for its MacBook laptop series earlier this week from the US Patent and Trademark Office. The new design in the patent hints at a dual-display MacBook that replaces the physical keyboard with a virtual one and even includes a built-in wireless iPhone charger.
Spotted first by Patently Apple, the patent was filed first about three years ago, and has only been granted to the Cupertino-based company recently. While it may seem too ambitious of a design for this year or next, it could be an inspiration for MacBooks later down the line.
The major change in the new design is the missing physical keyboard and touch bar which are now replaced by a second display that can turn into a number of virtual keyboard layouts as per the user’s need. The typing experience on a keyboard like this is expected to be similar to that of a smartphone keyboard.
— Patently Apple (@PatentlyApple) August 24, 2021
Secondary displays on laptops aren’t really new. The Asus Zenbook Duo has been featuring a secondary screen for a while now, and it is capable of assisting the tasks on the main display with, say a calculator, while being versatile enough to be an independent screen on its own.
However, this doesn’t come close to what the patented MacBook design aspires to be, where the possibilities are much more versatile. The entire bottom half being a display allows it to turn into anything from a keyboard, to a gamepad or even a really big trackpad.
If the company provides a 180-degree hinge, the implementation could also turn the MacBook into a larger Surface Duo when needed, except with more Apple flavour. The patent also hints at the biometric capabilities of this new bottom half, as well as a corner with a built-in wireless charger. This charger could charge your iPhone or AirPods directly from the MacBook and could be brilliantly convenient, even though it may not be the fastest.
As is true with many patents, this one too may end up never being a real product on Apple Store shelves. Even if it is, the design is likely years away from now. Here’s another patent that suggests Apple could drop the touch bar on the MacBook Pro for an Apple Pencil slot. For now, the brand is likely focusing on its next-gen MacBooks with the new M1X processor.