Apple’s modular MacBook patent reveals more ideas for rumored Surface Go rival

MacBook Pro 16-inch (2023) in use in a studio
(Image credit: Future)

Take a look at any of the best MacBooks and you’ll see a pretty standard laptop form factor. Well, that could soon change, as a new patent has emerged that shows Apple experimenting with some pretty wild ideas for its future portable computers.

The patent outlines a bunch of ideas that Apple has had for a modular laptop, with all kinds of unusual configurations apparently under consideration. It could one day lead to Apple entering the fray with a proper 2-in-1 laptop and competing more directly with Microsoft’s Surface Go.

So, what exactly is Apple apparently working on? According to the patent (number 20230315166), Apple is tinkering with a system where various sections could be added to or removed from a MacBook. We’ve seen that sort of thing in 2-in-1 devices before – you connect a keyboard to a display to make a laptop, or separate them to get a tablet – but Apple’s ideas go much further.

For instance, the company explains that future MacBooks could magnetically connect two displays to each other like some kind of giant foldable smartphone. Or you could attach a second display to the bottom edge of a MacBook’s keyboard, perhaps giving you a drawing space for an Apple Pencil.

Entering the 2-in-1 market?

Microsoft Surface Go

(Image credit: Future)

A previous patent has shown Apple experimenting with some pretty interesting ideas on a similar theme, including one that would even let you attach a record player to a display.

This modular concept is very unlike Apple’s normal approach, which is decidedly less experimental when it comes to form factors. But if it means Apple is thinking about bringing out a convertible 2-in-1 device to compete with the Surface Go and other similar products, that could be great news for Apple fans.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen Apple detail its progress on a modular MacBook. Back in July 2023, that similar patent emerged that also detailed the bizarre record-player-laptop hybrid. The steady stream of patents is not too surprising, as Apple often iterates on its ideas in subsequent patents as it continues to test and refine its thinking.

It’s also a reminder that it could be a while until we see this laptop come to fruition – if we ever do. Apple might release more patents down the line with further improvements to the concept, or it might just remain that forever – a concept. There’s no guarantee Apple will ever launch a modular laptop, but if it does, it could shake up the tech industry in the way Apple products have been doing for years.

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