Apple patents a trio of ideas to fix its MacBook keyboard

While adding a membrane to keep out debris from damaging its third-generation keyboard design with butterfly switches on the 2018 MacBook Pro was a good first step in helping to address keyboard woes on Apple’s early MacBook and MacBook Pro models, recently published patent filings suggest that the Mac-maker may have grander plans to fix the keyboard. While one of Apple’s ideas calls for a redesigned membrane to keep debris out, Apple’s other keyboard inventions are based on a dual-screen laptop design.

Though Apple’s innovation with adding a secondary touchscreen isn’t entirely novel — Microsoft and Apple’s rivals in the PC spaces have been rumored to be working on dual-screen laptops — Apple is adding its own twist to this form factor. Like dual-screen concepts that were leaked in recent past, Apple would eschew the keyboard in favor of a secondary screen that could be made from glass or plastic.

apple has three patents to fix the macbook pro keyboard problems glass patent

The benefit here is that the keys could be reconfigured, and users can use their own custom key layouts with software. This could be useful for gaming, video editing, and other applications. Having a screen here and a software keyboard would eliminate some of weaknesses of a mechanical key design, including problems like debris getting trapped under the keys or damaged key switches. Users can also add dials, sliders, and other options to the software keyboard.

In essence, this keyboard would serve like an expanded version of the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro, which already offers sliders, customizable keys, and keys that change depending on the application used. Moreover, Apple could also add haptic feedback to provide the illusion of mechanical key presses when typing, which could help mitigate some of the pain points — like fatigue and lack of responsiveness — when trying to type on a glass surface for extended duration.

apple has three patents to fix the macbook pro keyboard problems overlay patent

For users who need a physical keyboard to type, Apple’s second innovation is to have a keyboard overlay covering the bottom display. The idea isn’t dissimilar to the snap-on keyboard cover accessory that Samsung sells for its Galaxy phones, essentially transforming the touchscreen-keyboard to a BlackBerry-like experience with physical keys. In Apple’s case, the surface surrounding the keyboard would also be touch-sensitive, and users could add place other peripherals, like a joystick, on this area.

And Apple’s last innovation calls for a flexible membrane that is waterproof to cover the keyboard mechanism. “The material would be flexible enough for the key mechanism to actuate the key, without requiring a hole to be made in the membrane at all,” AppleInsider noted. “The 2018 MacBook Pro models have an added membrane which seems to have been made with reducing debris buildup in mind, but its holes to allow for key actuation means it is not infallible.”

The design would be different from Apple’s keyboard cover for the iPad Pro, which has a flexible fabric membrane covering the top of the actual keyboard keys. The MacBook Pro’s membrane would cover just the key mechanism and would be placed between the mechanism and the keycaps.

Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Home Theater

All of the TVs getting Apple’s AirPlay 2 in 2019

This year, Apple made it clear it was done keeping its AirPlay wireless streaming technology to itself. With an open API, the way is clear for a plethora of third-party devices, including this growing list of TVs.
Apple

Apple may be developing a new iPod Touch to woo younger users

Apple may be developing its first new iPod touch model since 2015 as it aims to capture younger users who are not yet ready for their own smartphone, and expand its overall listening base in the future.
Mobile

C you soon? Rumors swirl of a USB-C port on 2019 iPhones

While it's not been long since the last iPhones launched, rumors for the next iPhone are already surfacing. Apple's 2019 flagship could include a variety of upgrades ranging from a new design to enhanced features.
Computing

Should you buy the affordable MacBook Air, or is the MacBook Pro worth the price?

Though they both share Retina Displays and similar keyboards, there are still some specs differences and other changes that differentiate the new 2018 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. In this guide, we stack the two up against each other.
Computing

Hackers are scoring with ransomware that attacks its previous victims

Computer viruses are always evolving. In a new one, dubbed "Ryuk," hackers are targeting PCs with ransomware that scours an infected network in order to pinpoint and attack and enterprises with big money.
Computing

An update to Microsoft To-Do will help you keep up with your resolutions

If you're looking to stay productive in 2019, you might want to check out the freshly updated Microsoft To-Do app, now with additional integration with the Windows 10 Start Menu and more.
Computing

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.
Computing

Could the next Microsoft HoloLens be announced at MWC 2019?

After not having a presence at Mobile World Congress for three years, Microsoft is now sending out media invites for a press conference on February 24 during the annual event in Barcelona. Could a next-generation HoloLens be on the way?
Computing

Microsoft to separate Cortana from search with the next version of Windows 10

Changes are on the way for two key features in Windows 10. A separation of Windows 10 search and Cortana will allow Microsoft to more often innovate on each of the features independently.
Computing

Delete tracking cookies from your system by following these quick steps

Cookies are useful when it comes to saving your login credentials and other data, but they can also be used by advertisers to track your browsing habits across multiple sites. Here's how to clear cookies in the major browsers.
Computing

Convert your PDFs into convenient Word documents with Adobe or a free option

PDF files are great, but few document types are as malleable as those specific to Microsoft Word. Here's how to convert a PDF file into a Word document, whether you prefer to use Adobe's software suite or a freemium alternative.
Computing

Nvidia’s next midrange card might be a GTX 1660 Ti, rumors suggest

Nvidia may be working on a non-RTX Turing graphics card called the 1660 Ti. Rumors suggest it will have around 20 percent fewer CUDA cores than the RTX 2060 and will lack ray tracing support.
Deals

From Samsung to HP, here are the best cheap Chromebook deals right now

Whether you want a compact laptop to enjoy some entertainment on the go, or you need a no-nonsense machine for school or work, we've smoked out the best cheap Chromebook deals -- from full-sized laptops to 2-in-1 convertibles -- with most…