Apple's love of keeping its devices thin and light is well known in the industry. According to a recent patent, Apple appears to be working on a retractable MacBook keyboard that may make the company's laptops slimmer than ever.
The patent states that users "prefer keys or keys that give audible and tactile feedback when pressed". The problem with this, according to Apple, is that keyboards take up more space than is often required – for example, when the laptop is not being used – to take into account the desired key travel and feedback. These extra millimeters could be sheared off with a little creative technique.
The patent explains that the keyboard would lift when the MacBook cover was lifted
How do you combine the depth and tactility that users expect from a keyboard with a device that doesn't take up too much space? Simple: if you flip the keyboard up when lifting the MacBook cover. When in use, the position of the keyboard is the same as that of another laptop. However, when the lid is down, the keyboard sinks into the base of the device using a set of “movable magnetic or mechanical fasteners”.
Interestingly, this patent can continue where the butterfly keyboard left off. Before the Butterfly keyboard was completely replaced with the newly updated Magic keyboard, it was Apple's attempt to bring an incredibly slim keyboard to its laptops. Unfortunately, it was not a success for Tim Cook and Co. because the keyboard gained a reputation for sticky keys and uncomfortable typing.
When the MacBook is closed, the keyboard sinks into the body of the device
In an interview with CNET in November 2019, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller said the company would continue to work on the butterfly keyboard, and this patent could reflect this effort. Finally, the patent states that the stabilizers under each key could be "scissor mechanisms, butterfly mechanisms, and similar devices". If you thought the butterfly keyboard was gone for good, it may be a little early to breathe a sigh of relief.
Given Apple's many patents that never see the light of day, this retractable keyboard may never become a product. It was submitted in August 2019, so it may take a few more years to finish – if it is ever finished.