MacBook Tablet patent hints at convertible touch Macs
Earlier in the year a patent for a MacBook Touch of sorts appeared, basically it was a MacBook with a touch screen, but that idea was later shot down by Steve Jobs in the Mac OS X 10.7 Lion preview keynote speech who said that touching a laptop screen was ergonomically awkward. Now another patent has surfaced that seems to alleviate that problem, and this time it features a MacBook that converts to a tablet by sliding the screen forward over the keyboard.
According to Patently Apple, a variation of the MacBook Tablet patent first appeared in 2008 but the convertible concept has reappeared in new patents for iOS keyboard detection and a new scrolling API. Patently Apple also points out that the idea of a laptop with a sliding screen has already been adopted by Dell in the Inspiron Duo (shown below next to an iPad):
Are we going to see a sliding screen MacBook Tablet in Apple’s product future? Apple is clearly exploring the idea, but I think the obstacle is how to make the MacBook acceptably thin and light enough for a sliding touch screen to incorporate into the hardware and not feel cumbersome. Certainly the recently released MacBook Air is a step in this direction, but outside of the 11″ model I think there is still some weight to lose before it’s a plausible solution on other models.
If this convertible MacBook to Tablet concept is built, it will likely feature Mac OS X as the default operating system in standard keyboard mode, and then switch to iOS when converted to a tablet, which is an idea that Apple is exploring as evidenced in the patent that shows an iMac Touch running Mac OS X with iOS as a touch layer on top.
You can check out the MacBook Tablet patent and thoughts on the concept at the incredibly resourceful Patently Apple. It’s a fun site to look around for a glimpse into Apple’s creativity, even if many of the ideas never come to fruition.