Apple is that ever closer to its stated ambition to design the iPhone as a single glass slab but a new patent application suggests that at least some of the company’s designers have the same ambition for the iMac.
One cool variant also reveals how the MacBook Pro will dock with the iMac, a concept that could potentially work for a future Apple display too.
It is drafted in the widest possible terms, as is common for Apple patents, and allows for either a physical keyboard and trackpad(s) or a virtual one.
We say’trackpad(s)’ because one design shows dual trackpads, one side of the keyboard.
Even a slot in the glass includes one option. A MacBook could be put behind the iMac, and the keyboard then pushed through the front slot to emerge. Maybe the processing power of both machines could be combined, similar to using an external GPU today.
We are always advising that Apple patents all kinds of things that never make it on the market, and this one seems like one of those concept cars shown at shows by vehicle manufacturers: a chance to let the designers go wild in the hope that it might spur one or two ideas that filter down to vastly diluted production vehicles.
At the same time, there is little here at some point which wouldn’t be practical. Curved glass is now commonplace in smartphones; virtual keyboards may be horrific flat things at the minute, but for simple buttons and trackpads, Apple already has convincing-feeling haptics, so it’s not hard to imagine that one day it could create a realistic-felt glass keyboard. The key challenge here is to allow touch-typers to feel the edge of the virtual keys when they are at rest, and for that, Apple has patents. A version with a physical keyboard andtrackpad(s) would be far more practical than this.