With the iPad Pro just over the horizon, Apple was granted a few new patents this week regarding a Mac with a detachable display.
The hypothetical Mac would be a laptop with a detachable monitor, which is actually the opposite of the iPad Pro, which is a tablet with a detachable keyboard. The patent explains that this machine would be different than most of the 2-in-1 PCs that have become somewhat popular over the last few years, which are essentially tablets with a keyboard dock.
In this machine the brains of the operation would be in the keyboard base including a primary wireless processor and a detachable monitor would connect via a second wireless processor to all of the other necessary internals located in the keyboard base. Theoretically this would make the machine just as powerful even when the monitor is detached. However, the patent was silent about whether the Mac would feature a touchscreen, which seems almost necessary for a detachable display.
Like any of Apple’s patents, you can never tell which ideas will end up in an Apple product but I’m sure there would be a market for a 2-in-1 Mac. All the craze in the PC world over the last few years has been about 2-in-1s, but so far Apple hasn’t jumped on that boat and has kept its Mac and iPad lines distinctly different. Apple executives have also made plenty of strong statements over the last few years that there are no plans to merge iOS and OS X. My guess is that consolidating two major products would significantly decrease revenue. If you think about it, most people who have a Mac and an iPhone have bought at least one iPad.
Although I would love a machine that ran OS X when hooked up to a keyboard base, and then switched over to iOS when detached, I can’t imagine Apple making a machine that would cannibalize its other products.
Apple was also granted another patent this week is centered around a pressure sensitive keyboard. I would assume that Apple would include 3D Touch features that were introduced on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus in the keyboard.
The immediate concern I have with a 3D Touch keyboard is key travel. The new butterfly keyboard featured in the 2015 MacBook was not well received and only time will tell if Apple will stick with that ultra low travel keyboard. Recently, there was a shred of hope for many that Apple has not married itself to the new MacBook keyboard.
The new Magic Keyboard does not feature the butterfly mechanism but rather sticks with the traditional scissor keys found in all other Macs. If Apple does eventually release a pressure sensitive keyboard I hope they maintain at least a little key travel.
We can only brainstorm about the functionality of a 3D Touch keyboard but it sounds like an interesting idea and since Apple has already released a slew of products that feature multidimensional touch this patented idea may be one that Apple does stick into a product.
So what do you think about a future Mac that features a detachable display and a pressure sensitive keyboard?