Future Mac laptops could sport a touchpad that doubles as a secondary display

Future Mac laptops could sport a touchpad that doubles as a secondary display, per a newly filed Apple patent (number 10,915,143) for “systems and methods for customizing display modes for a touch-sensitive secondary display.” It could also apply to a next gen Magic Touchpad for Mac desktops. 

In the patent filing, Apple notes that integrating touch-sensitive secondary displays into computing systems has resulted in new ways for users to interact with these systems. In context of an application displayed at a primary display of the computing system. 

However, says that, in certain instances, however, some users are unable to easily locate desired “affordances” within the secondary display while using certain applications. Affordances are properties of objects that show users the actions they can take. 

Apple says that users should be able to perceive affordances without having to consider how to use the items. For instance, a button can be designed to look as if it needs to be turned or pushed. Apple says there’s a need for customization features that allow users to easily switch between different display modes for the secondary display and that also allows users to associate display modes for the secondary display with different applications. 

And wouldn’t it be cool to have a Mac with a touchpad that accepted Apple Pencil input? Well, I can dream, can’t I?

Here’s the summary of the patent filing: “Disclosed herein are systems and methods that enable users to customize operation of a touch-sensitive secondary display. An example method includes: displaying, on primary display, a first UI [user interface] for a first application; while secondary display is operating in an adaptive display mode: (i) displaying, on a respective portion of the touch-sensitive secondary display, application-specific user interface elements selected based on current state of the first UI; and (ii) receiving a request to operate the secondary display in a persistent mode; in response to receiving the request, operating the touch-sensitive secondary display in the persistent display mode; and after changing focus to a second UI for a second application: displaying, on the primary display, the second UI; and maintaining display, on the respective portion of the secondary display, of UI elements associated with the persistent display mode.”

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.