Laptops that turn into tablets, tablets with detachable keyboards… the line between tablet, 2-in-1 and laptop is getting blurrier all the time, and a new patent recently filed by Apple suggests the trend for versatile devices is unlikely to go away any time soon.
We’re not talking about a touchscreen display here – we’re talking about a touchscreen keyboard underneath the display. Haptic feedback would be used to let you know when you’ve hit a key, though you’d just be hitting a flat surface with your fingers.
It’s essentially an iPad-style on-screen keyboard for your laptop: something Apple is dubbing “zero travel” (because your fingers don’t actually travel anywhere). No doubt the MacBook would be able to get even thinner as a result.
While keyboard-lovers would be up-in-arms if the MacBooks adopted this new system, it would allow for flexible, custom keyboards just like those on iOS. The keyboard layout could change depending on the application being used.
Presumably battery life could be improved as well, which may help to sell the idea to MacBook buyers. Ultimately, Apple is unlikely to ditch the physical keyboard altogether – this is more likely to be an optional extra rather than something for its entire range.
As seasoned patent-watchers will know, these filings only show the ideas being thrown around behind the scenes, and there’s no guarantee something like this will ever see the light of day – though it’s fun to imagine a flat, touch-sensitive laptop keyboard.