A newly discovered Apple patent indicates that the company might be planning to introduce a removeable key in the keyboard of future MacBooks that can act as a mouse.
"The removable key can have a position sensor, wherein in the first configuration, the removable key structure is operable to provide a key-based typing input, and, in the second configuration, the removable key structure is operable as a computer pointing device using the position sensor. The removable key structure can therefore allow comfortable, portable, and precise pointer input for a computer input system."
Not all patents make it to market, obviously, and can often be used to simply lock a competitor out of new technologies even if a company itself has no intention of bringing that technology to market.
It's way too soon to tell if that's the case with the "Deployable Key Mouse", though, so we'll just have to see if MacBooks two or three years from now roll out this new feature.
Opinion: Finally, an Apple innovation I can get behind
All that being said, I genuinely hope this patent gets implemented. I work with a lot of laptops, and trackpads are perfectly fine, all things considered. They get the job done and you don't have to fuss with connecting an additional peripheral.
Still, whenever I'm out covering a convention or having to do normal work outside of my apartment or office, I always bring a portable mouse with me. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to edit photos with a trackpad. It's the absolute worst.
Having a portable mouse built right into the keyboard would definitely be a nice feature to have on my work laptop and it's definitely one that would push me towards a newer MacBook in the future, even though I am almost exclusively a Windows PC/Linux user.
The best of both world would be for other laptop manufacturers to implement a similar system in their devices, but barring that it's at least an Apple innovation that would get me to finally consider buying another MacBook.
- Stay up to date on all the latest tech news with the TechRadar newsletter