The rumors that Apple is making a Mac Touchscreen laptops are as old as Steve Jobs’ adage that touchscreen laptops suck and hurt your arm. but one new patent it shows that Apple is still working on the idea, and this time around the company might have finally perfected it.
As discovered by Patent Apple, the patent describes how a touchscreen Mac could incorporate haptic feedback into its screen. That means you might get little tactile nuggets every time you press the screen, subtly letting you know your actions have been recognized.
Apple also explains how the bottom of a laptop, i.e. the area that contains the keyboard and trackpad, could also be equipped with a haptic display. This screen could be used to evoke a virtual keyboard that could change its layout on the fly, an idea Apple has been toying with for years.
The patent also notes that the haptic system could sense varying degrees of force. This could provide different levels of response depending on how hard you press (something you already get with the aptly named Force Touch trackpad on the latest MacBooks).
It’s not a well-known fact, but Apple devices already come with haptic touch screens. Modern iPhones can allow for haptic feedback, something that can greatly improve the typing experience. If Apple were to implement a similar system in future MacBooks, as this patent implies, it could ease any fears users may have about the discomfort of typing on a smooth touchscreen surface.
a touch of innovation
In addition to the screen, Apple’s patent explains that haptic feedback could be added to the wrist rest area and trackpad, thus providing more options for how Apple’s touch system could work. As noted above, Apple’s laptops and standalone trackpads already have haptic feedback, so it’s possible the patent describes an improved system.
But there’s no such haptic feedback on the wrist rest area at the moment. Apple has explored this idea in the past, including in a patent that looked at how the entire bottom surface of a MacBook could be imbued with haptic technology, allowing you to change your keyboard layout or even add a dial if you need to.
Interestingly, Apple’s patent suggests that the haptic system could be used in a car, even on the dashboard or steering wheel. While Apple may have been illustrating possible uses for its idea, it could also be a clue that points towards the long-rumored self-driving car, dubbed Project Titan, that Apple is reportedly working on.
However, that is reaching the speculative end of an already speculative subject. There is no guarantee that Apple will put this patent into practice, and the company may simply be exploring ideas that are never incorporated into a product. Still, it’s a useful indication of how Apple might implement haptic feedback in touchscreen Macs. If you’ve been waiting for such a device, there may be exciting times ahead.