Skip to main content

Your next MacBook could have an e-ink keyboard, if Apple closes this deal

Sonder keyboard
Apple is reportedly in negotiations to acquire Australian startup Sonder, which produces a unique e-ink keyboard with distinctly Apple-inspired design sensibilities. The negotiations have been confirmed by sources within Sonder, though a final deal has yet to be announced.

The Sonder Keyboard features an e-ink display beneath transparent plastic keys, allowing users to customize the keyboard to their liking. While the keyboard is not out just yet, it is currently available for pre-order, though an acquisition by Apple might interfere with its plans to release the keyboard as a stand-alone product.

The keyboard would make an interesting addition to the Apple lineup, particularly considering the recent rumors that a customizable OLED touch strip is planned for the upcoming MacBooks. According to 9to5 Mac, the Sonder Keyboard could be slated for inclusion in a MacBook at some point in the future, as Apple continues to explore dynamic input devices, but it is unlikely we would see it soon.

Sonder currently produces a laptop module for their e-ink keyboard and the company claims three laptop manufacturers are in talks to license the technology. So the laptop compatible e-ink keyboard is clearly more than a concept at this point.

Still, Apple is expected to unveil a new slate of MacBooks later this month and even if the Sonder acquisition closes by then, we likely will not see the technology integrated into Apple products for at least one or two more MacBook generations.

According to sources close to the negotiations, the technology Apple is interested in differs from the upcoming consumer version of the keyboard significantly. The current Sonder Keyboard uses a non-backlit e-ink display beneath the alphanumeric keys, while the version Apple is reportedly being shown features a set of fully dynamic and backlit keys.

The talks with Sonder were reportedly carried out by Apple’s procurement board with assistance from Foxconn International Holdings, Sonder’s parent company, and E-Ink Holdings.

Editors' Recommendations

Jayce Wagner
Former Digital Trends Contributor
A staff writer for the Computing section, Jayce covers a little bit of everything -- hardware, gaming, and occasionally VR.
Have the M3 MacBook Pros made the Mac Studio irrelevant?
Apple Mac Studio front view showing ports.

It might seem strange to compare a desktop PC to a laptop. After all, one is intended for stationary work, and the other is meant to carry around. They have different internals, different connectivity, and usually different performance.

But Apple's Mac Studio and MacBook Pro (especially the 16-inch variant) are a different story. For Mac users, both represent the fastest Apple computers you can buy. Depending on how you use a desktop PC, either machine can suffice. So, which one is right for you?
Specs and configurations

Read more
Apple could fix the MacBook lineup with this one change
An open MacBook Pro on a table.

I was as surprised as anyone when Apple killed off the 13-inch MacBook Pro in October 2023, but at the time, it was definitely a pleasant revelation rather than a nasty shock. Now, though? There’s something I wish Apple had done differently.

Looking at Apple’s MacBook Pro lineup today, it’s almost perfect. How can Apple achieve that just-out-of-reach perfection? Maybe it should think about dropping the M3 MacBook Pro. I know, I know, it’s only just been released, but trust me -- it needs to go.
In an awkward spot

Read more
Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro: don’t make a mistake you’ll regret
The MacBook Pro open on a table in front of a couch.

When it comes to the best Apple laptops, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is the true flagship model. It contains the fastest chips, the most storage, and the largest and most impressive display. It’s also the most expensive MacBook Pro, easily costing you thousands of dollars with just a few upgraded components.

That makes it tricky to work out how you should configure it and which version you should buy. There may only be three main choices you have to make -- the chip, the memory and the storage -- but each one carries a lot of weight. It’s important to make the right decision when you pull the trigger.

Read more