Apple patent filing hints at a Mac laptop with attachable-but-removable components

FIG. 1A shows a perspective view of a computer with modular components.

Apple has filed for a patent (number US 20230315166 A1) for “modularized computing and input devices” It involves a Mac laptop with attachable-but-removable components — the keyboard, screen, trackpad, etc. — offered in modules rather than a complete, all-in-one device.

Admittedly, this seems to go against Apple’s usual tact of offering its devices with little upgradeability. But perhaps the company is at least considering offering more user choice.

A modular computer would allow a user to mix and match components as needed. It could also, conceivably, mean a touchscreen could be offered for a Mac.

About the patent filing

In the patent filing, Apple notes that the components of computing devices, including housings for computers, can be designed or formed for specific purposes. Large or bulky components have traditionally been used to achieve a desired level of performance in a computing device, such as a desired amount of memory, a desired level of computing power, or a desired manner of user input. 

Housings for such computers are constrained to designs including relatively large or uninterrupted internal volumes. Other performance requirements for the computing devices also often limited the housings However, Apple notes that recent advances in computing devices have provided for the miniaturization or reduction in size of the components, such as computing components, used to power and drive the devices, such as processors, batteries, memory, and integrated circuits. As a result, computing devices having different form-factors have been adopted to provide efficient platforms for a particular use or in a particular environment. 

For example, laptop and tablet computing devices are commonly used when mobility is desired, such as, reading news articles on a bus or a park bench. Alternatively, desktop computing devices are commonly desired when a user wants a larger display and/or a full-size keyboard. Apple says that while computing devices have traditionally been constructed to fit the needs of a single particular use (e.g., sketching, virtual and artificial reality applications, reading social media, etc.), “reconfigurable computing devices can be desirable to provide a higher quality user experience within a broad spectrum of uses and environments.”

Summary of the patent filing

Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent filing: “A computing device can be reconfigurable to include one or more electrical devices in various configurations. The computing device can include a base forming an input surface configured to receive user input. The base can receive one or more input devices, such as, displays or keyboards. 

“The base can include a hinge rotatably attached to the base and configured to removably retain an electronic device, such as, a display. The computing device can include a coupling mechanism having a first retaining portion and a second retaining portion rotatably coupled to an intermediate portion. The first and second retaining portions can be configured to removably retain electrical devices to the coupling mechanism.”

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.