As Apple prepares to launch the new iPhone 13 family, the MacBook Pro will be taking a back seat until October when the new hardware will have a chance to shine. But if you’re looking for a reinvention of the MacBook platform, you might want to wait a little longer.
It’s clear that the move to use Apple Silicon inside the Mac family is bringing tangible benefits to the platform; from battery life and roller temperatures, to more power and a better integration of software and hardware, the M1 Macs have shaken up the desk-bound personal computer market.
The presumptively-named M1X, which are expected to launch in late October / early November, will build on that success; as well as debuting a new design of MacBook with a miniLED screen, better battery life, and a 14-inch display on the smaller model.
While these are all welcome, Apple is clearly working on something better. As macOS and iPadOS draw closer and closer together in software capabilities and hardware specs, Apple maintains that there will not be any further drift by adding one key feature to the MacBook Pro, namely a touchscreen.
Unfortunately for Apple, it’s clear that the R&D teams are hard at work on laptop technology built around a touchscreen. To highlight three, it could be displayed in paperwork around cross-device interactions, shared code and runtimes between the iPad and the Mac, and the potential inclusion of the Apple Pencil mimicking the powerful interface of Microsoft’s Surface Pro X.
To all of the above, and the rest, we can add haptic feedback on the screen. The details have been published in a patent titled “”. Jack Purcher notes:
Apple’s patent covers a haptic structure for providing localized haptic output and tactile sensations for an electronic device…. “In some cases, the haptic structures may be integrated into a display of an electronic device, such as the laptop computing device shown…”
The patent covers many areas where haptic feedback could be used, including the wrist rests, the touch-pad, and under the keyboard area (suggesting a lack of physical keys, with feedback delivered by the haptic system). But it’s the haptics behind the screen that are key. For haptics to work you need to be in physical contact with something. To be in physical contact with a Mac screen you need to be touching it. And the only reason to touch a screen would be if it is a touchscreen.
For all of Apple’s protestations that the iPad and MacBook are totally different platforms and never the twain shall meet, the signals coming out of Cupertino say otherwise. It’s certainly not going to happen in the next month or two, even though the display is being updated to miniLED. It’s probably not going to happen in any refresh in the first half of 2022. Developers will need to get ready for the changes to macOS ahead of any hardware release so it’s not going to happen before WWDC 2022.
But it’s going to happen. And when it does the world of macOS, especially the macOS laptops, are going to fundamentally change.