Apple recently launched an updated version of MacBook Pro with faster processor and third-generation butterfly switch keyboard. With the 2018 MacBook Pro, Apple addressed the keyboard woes by adding a membrane to keep the debris from damaging the keyboard. This is the first major step from the Cupertino-based company to address an issue being faced by those who bought the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models.
However, a new patent filing from the company suggests that Apple has even grander plans to fix the flaws with its keyboard. One of the idea is to include a redesigned membrane to keep debris out of the keyboard while other ideas include making a dual-screen laptop similar to Lenovo Yoga Book. Apple has been very conservative as far as adding touchscreen to Mac is concerned and these patent filings might never translate into actual product.
If Apple does make laptops with secondary touch display then it won’t be the first to do. Lenovo partnered Microsoft, Google and Intel to launch Yoga Book with dual touch display. While the product did not become a commercial success, it showed the future of computing devices with dual-touchscreen.
Lenovo is reportedly working on second generation Yoga Book while Asus showcased its own dual-screen laptop called Precog at Computex 2018. The patent filing from Apple shows that it will drop the keyboard in favor of a secondary screen that could be made from either glass or plastic. The description notes that customers can reconfigure the keys and use their own custom key layouts with software.
Having an entire touchscreen as the primary input device will eliminate the need for physical keys and will ensure that dust does not get into the key caps of membrane keyboard. The software would also let users add things like dials, sliders and other tools that would enhance their experience. In other words, this glass keyboard will be Touch Bar with lot more feature than one could imagine.
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The patent also hints at Apple offering option for a keyboard overlay for those who prefer physical keyboard. The idea is basically to clip in the keyboard overlay inside the glass surface and emulate the feeling of physical keyboard. Whether the experience will be even half as good as traditional laptops is up for debate but it does show that Apple wants to address the issues surrounding keyboards on new MacBook Pro models.
The best way to address the ongoing issue would be to make a better keyboard that does not rely on butterfly switch mechanism altogether. But, Apple will definitely not do that and is instead hard at work to innovate the keyboard experience for its users.