Apple patents a new stylus system for MacBooks that would bring back a controversial feature

(Image credit: unsplash)

Apple’s MacBook range is often regarded as some of the best laptops in the business, and the iconic MacBook design has inspired many other manufacturers to adopt a similar sleek metallic chassis for their products, but it looks like a facelift could be on the way in the form of a new MacBook Pro design. 

Forbes details a patent called ‘Mountable tool computer input’ that maps out a slot for an Apple pencil holder above the number keys at the top of the keyboard on the laptop (where you would normally have function keys or a touch bar).  

The document diagrams suggest the Apple pencil will take the place of these missing keys, however, their functionality may not be entirely lost - and in the case of the unpopular Touch Bar, they may not be missed anyway.

Apple Patent

(Image credit: Forbes)

The proposed Apple Pencil for MacBooks would be quite different from the basic Apple Pencil we know today. We could instead see a stylus with a built-in display that will act as the missing keys when slotted back into the laptop chassis, essentially turning the stylus into a removable Touch Bar.

Including a stylus of any kind suggests that we could see touch screen functionality come to new MacBook Pro models. This would be quite a change in attitude for Apple, which has vocally resisted putting touchscreens in its MacBooks and iMacs. Former CEO Steve Jobs was famously dismissive of the idea of touchscreen laptops.

Of course, patents are not a guarantee of a product ever being release, but more a proof of a company’s intent on exploring the possibilities. In the past, we’ve seen a lot of potentially very interesting patents amount to nothing.

Still, it is pretty exciting to see Apple thinking about introducing a new feature to its MacBook range while mulling a pretty revolutionary new design. While the familiar look doesn’t necessarily have anything wrong with it, it is getting a bit stale - especially with competitors like Microsoft and Lenovo already establishing stylus integration with their touchscreen laptops, and coming out with more experimental designs and form factors.

While we can only wait and see if this type of integral change actually comes to fruition, we can geek out over the idea of a touchscreen MacBook.I would be very interested to work with one not just on a professional level but on an artistic one as well. People use MacBook Pros to make and edit movies, animate and render art, create music and so much more - so it would be interesting to see how a touchscreen interface could help (or even hinder) workflow beyond spreadsheets and word processing. 

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Muskaan Saxena
Computing Staff Writer

Muskaan is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing writer. She has always been a passionate writer and has had her creative work published in several literary journals and magazines. Her debut into the writing world was a poem published in The Times of Zambia, on the subject of sunflowers and the insignificance of human existence in comparison.

Growing up in Zambia, Muskaan was fascinated with technology, especially computers, and she's joined TechRadar to write about the latest GPUs, laptops and recently anything AI related. If you've got questions, moral concerns or just an interest in anything ChatGPT or general AI, you're in the right place.

Muskaan also somehow managed to install a game on her work MacBook's Touch Bar, without the IT department finding out (yet).