Future MacBooks may substitute this integral element with a touchscreen

Some patent applications from Apple seem a bit on the crazy side and some are a little more grounded. Recently, Apple was granted a patent for a dual-screen MacBook that would replace the built-in keyboard with a virtual one like on the iPad. It would also gain the ability to wirelessly charge an iPhone.
Apple first submitted the patent for an “integrated interface system” three years ago, and we were skeptical that a dual-screen MacBook would even work. However, the company has finally been granted the patent, so we’ll have to see what it does with it.

The primary goal of the dual-screen is to provide the flexibility to change the interface as needed. For example, there could be multiple keyboard configurations to reflect different languages or region-specific layouts. The position and size of the keyboard could be changed depending on user preferences. It’s all very similar to what the current iPad virtual keyboard is capable of.
Apple doesn’t stop at keyboard configurations, though. One of the figures show the ability to interact with external objects such as a joystick for gaming or 3D modeling applications. Apple also envisions several biometric sensors such as Touch ID being integrated into the screen.
One feature that might perk up the ears of the Apple faithful is the inclusion of a wireless charging area for the iPhone or any other smartphone (assuming it’s using the Qi standard). This would make it much more convenient than purchasing a separate wireless charger, as well as reduce desk clutter.

Obviously, a dual-screened device is not a new concept. Lenovo in 2018 released the Yoga Book C930, which featured a unique e-ink screen. The company followed that up with the Thinkpad X1 Fold, a laptop with no physical keyboard at all, but with an actual folding screen. Of course, we can’t talk about dual-screen laptops without mentioning Microsoft’s delayed Surface Neo and Windows 10X.
There have been calls for Apple to put a touchscreen on Macs for a while, but probably more so once the company starting putting its own ARM silicon into its laptops and desktops. The M1 chip is able to run iOS apps natively on a Mac, so it makes sense to add touchscreen support. However, we’ve written before that Apple will probably never make a touchscreen Mac, and Steve Jobs was notoriously against the idea altogether because of the ergonomics.
This newly granted patent gets around this ergonomic problem by allowing Apple to simply modify the displays however it wants. According to the patent itself: “… transparent dielectric material may form a continuous or seamless input surface that may improve the look and feel of the device without having the drawbacks of some traditional device constructions.”
These “drawbacks” simply mean that Apple doesn’t have to physically alter the keyboard or create new MacBook designs in order to change the look and feel. Everything can simply be done through the software. This would save Apple a lot of time and money in hardware design and could be Apple’s ultimate vision of combining the Mac and iPad into one device.
Regardless of  which patent items ultimately get implemented, they hopefully won’t end up as unpopular as the Touch Bar.

Editors’ Recommendations

The Deployable Key Mouse could also be Apple’s craziest MacBook concept but

What if your laptop didn’t have a trackpad, but instead a removable key that could work as a mouse? That’s exactly what Apple is trying to do according to a recently spotted patent application.
The feature is called “Deployable Key Mouse” in the patent application and was first spotted by Patently Apple. The diagrams on the application show a regular MacBook keyboard with a hidden removable key. This key would have a “position sensor” that allows it to function as a pointing device. While docked on the keyboard, the key would still provide typing input like any of the other keys.

In the application, Apple outlines a brief history of the mouse and the many applications of its precision input. However, Apple also suggests that users are “burdened” with having to carry both a computer and a mouse. Therefore, Apple developed this solution for combining the mouse with the keyboard itself. It’s all very efficient and convenient by Apple’s reasoning.
Apple showed various “embodiments” that this built-in mouse could take. In one, the key is a single item that can be inserted vertically into the keyboard chassis. Oher drawings show removing the key sideways from the chassis. Still, other embodiments show a set of keys being removed instead of just one key. This may be better from an ergonomic perspective since a single MacBook key is pretty small.

One obvious question may be about mouse buttons. Apple has that covered as well. One of the diagrams show a retractable button that could also act as a joystick. Another picture shows an optical or touch sensor on top of the key that would allow users to provide sliding input for scrolling, similar to Apple’s existing Magic Mouse.
Interestingly, this isn’t even the most outlandish patent application we’ve seen from Apple. Last year, Apple was granted a patent for AirPods that could be controlled through gestures. Oh, and these gestures don’t involve touching the AirPods themselves, so theoretically, one could use their teeth or tongue to control aspects of the wireless earbuds.
Patent applications are hardly a predictor of the future, but can provide insight into ideas that a company may want to try out one day. One could imagine Apple implementing this idea into compact keyboards such as for the iPad. While the Magic Keyboard for the iPad contains a trackpad, some people may prefer the precision of an actual external mouse. This may well end up being either a feature that nobody asked for or one that many can’t live without.

Editors’ Recommendations

Greatest low-cost MacBook offers and gross sales for August 2021

Windows and Chrome OS laptops command the lion’s share of the laptop market, but for Apple fans, there’s only one name in the game: the MacBook. Apple’s beloved and iconic laptops might not outsell all the Windows PC brands combined, but it remains one of the single most popular computers out there, particularly among creatives and professionals. They’re definitely on the more expensive end of the laptop spectrum, though, so to help you find the right one for your budget, we’ve rounded up a hand-picked list of the best cheap MacBook deals available this week.
If you love everything with an Apple logo and you’re hungry for more savings, then also check out these iPhone deals and iPad deals.
Today’s Best MacBook Deals

MacBook Deals

In July 2019, Apple stopped selling the 12-inch MacBook on its website and in its stores, but you can still get it from third-party resellers. There are plenty of reasons to opt for it, too. Compared to the Air, not only is the MacBook’s screen smaller, but the device is also extremely thin and light. It hasn’t been updated since 2017, but it has the modern Mac look, including the large trackpad, butterfly-style keyboard, Retina display, and simplified port selection. Aside from a headphone jack, the laptop comes with just a single Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port. That means you can’t plug in a wired mouse and power at the same time, for example, unless you have an adapter.
The most recent version from 2017 received a bump to dual-core, seventh-generation Kaby Lake Intel processors. Like the MacBook Air, we found it to be fast enough to get through a normal day of productivity and web browsing. We’d recommend one of the newer MacBook Airs to most people, but for those who want the absolute smallest, most portable MacBook, this is your best option.
Amazon is currently selling the professionally Renewed and warranty-backed 2017 12-inch MacBook for as low as $589, which gets you an Intel Core m3 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.

MacBook Air Deals

Before 2018, the MacBook Air hadn’t received a serious update for many years. The iconic silver look may have been revolutionary in 2012, but its thick bezels and lower-resolution screen had become outdated over the years. There have thankfully been a couple of revisions since then, but we can still recommend this reasonably recent 2017 model to people who have basic everyday needs and don’t want to shell out for a Pro. Its Intel Core processor and 8GB RAM will ensure it won’t feel too long in the tooth in 2020, even if it isn’t sporting the upgrades of the newer units. It’s also the cheapest way into the MacBook ecosystem, and that alone makes it worth your consideration.
If you’re in the market for a slightly older model and are willing to buy refurbished (in nearly like-new condition and backed by a warranty since it’s Amazon Renewed) so you can save some cash, the 2017 MacBook Air below is going for just $368 at the moment — a steal at this price.

In the middle of 2019, Apple gave the MacBook Air a complete makeover, bringing it up to speed with the rest of its MacBooks. These  2019 and 2020 revisions have a new look — thinner bezels, a smaller chassis, higher-resolution display, USB-C, as well as new color options like gold and space gray. The new MacBook Air also has some of the mainstays of modern Apple laptops such as the low-travel keyboard, oversized trackpad, and Touch ID fingerprint scanner.
The Air saw some hardware updates in 2020 too, including the addition of the newer 10th-gen Intel Core CPUs as well as the introduction of Apple’s own new M1 processor. We found it more than capable of handling day-to-day tasks, just don’t expect to be editing 4K video on it. That said, that MI CPU is pretty amazing and punches well above its weight. It has the best battery life of all the MacBooks, and also comes with the lowest starting price of around $1,000 right now.
If you’re in the market for a new M1 MacBook Air, then you can currently can enjoy a modest but welcome discount off the usual price that knocks it down to $900 (students with a valid .edu address can take another $100, bringing it down further to just $800). This deal gets you the superb new M1 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD — perfect specs for an everyday laptop.

16-inch MacBook Pro Deals

It had been rumored for months, but there was still a sense of excitement when Apple finally unveiled the 16-inch MacBook Pro in mid-November 2019. Many of the rumored features — the higher-resolution display, the new keyboard, and the Navi graphics — proved to be correct.
That means this is the biggest upgrade to the MacBook Pro line since it was redesigned in 2016. It takes features that had become standard in the MacBook Pro 15, like the Touch Bar and USB-C ports, and adds all-new features. For example, you can give it an 8TB SSD, the largest SSD available in any laptop, or if you need a huge amount of memory, there’s a 64GB RAM option. If you’re a pro and need power, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is the one to get.
Right now the new 16-inch MacBook Pro has a haircut that brings its price down to $2,200. You get a 9th-generation 6-core Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and an AMD Radeon Pro 5300M graphics card. Want some boosted specs? The Core i9 MacBook Pro 16 with 1TB of storage and a Radeon Pro 5500M GPU is on sale for $2,300, saving you $500.

13-inch MacBook Pro Deals
Digital Trends
With its more powerful specs, the MacBook Pro represents the top of the MacBook lineup. These are laptops for people who want to run heavy applications such as Photoshop or Lightroom — or even just for people who want to multitask like nobody’s business. However, there are several important distinctions you should be aware of, even concerning the 13-inch models.
Apple has now added the Touch Bar to all of its recent MacBook Pro models. The Touch Bar is a slim OLED touchscreen that takes the place of the function keys and is purpose-built for navigating MacOS and its software — but it’s admittedly not for everyone, so if you’d prefer a MacBook Pro without it, then you’ll have to opt for a last-gen model from 2017 or earlier.
Right now, you can score has this refurbished 13-inch non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro in renewed condition from 2017. For $584, you get an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, a 128GB SSD (the 256GB model is also on sale if you need a little more storage), and two Thunderbolt 3 ports. It’s a great deal if you want to save yourself some cash by going without the Touch Bar.

Apple updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro in 2019 to come with the latest-generation Intel processors, with slight speed bumps to both the base clock and Turbo Boost speeds. With the MacBook Pro 16 on the market now, prices of last-gen and smaller-sized MacBook Pro models have been slashed.
You can now save hundreds on the 13-inch MacBook Pro complete with Touch Bar from early 2020 by buying this nicely specced unit at a discount that brings its price down to $950. That gives you a quad-core Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256B SSD. The new 2020 MacBook Pro with M1 chips were recently released and we’ll be posting any worthy discounts for those as they appear, but if you want a deal, then buying this still-excellent Intel Core model is the surest way to save right now.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro was given a couple refreshes for 2020. Although innovative, Apple isn’t exactly a company known for re-inventing the wheel — it typically sticks to a good design once it’s found it — and the first 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro update wasn’t an exception to this rule, featuring a very similar overall aesthetic to previous models (outdated bezels and all) with some modest hardware updates under the hood. One major noteworthy upgrade is the new Magic Keyboard, which is fantastic. It’s comfortable, it’s quiet, and it even has a proper escape key this time around. The second update, however, added Apple’s fantastic new M1 CPU to the lineup.
This model packs that eight-core M1 CPU along with 8GB of RAM and a snappy 256GB SSD, pairing what are pretty much ideal specs for an everyday laptop with the sort of quality you’d typically associate with the Pro line. You can grab the new 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro for just $1,100 right now, which is one of the best prices we’ve seen yet for this new model.

Looking for more tech deals? Find gaming laptops, Chromebook deals, and much more on our curated deals page.
We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and we choose what we cover carefully and independently. The prices, details, and availability of the products and deals in this post may be subject to change at anytime. Be sure to check that they are still in effect before making a purchase.Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.

Editors’ Recommendations