Apple has repeatedly said that we shouldn’t expect touch screen Macs. However, that doesn’t mean the tech giant isn’t investigating such devices.
About the patent
For example, Apple has been granted a patent (number 11,314,297) for an “electronic device with adjustable airflow diversion.” It mainly involves enhanced methods for keeping laptops cool. However, it also says the electronic device could a base portion and a display housing that could be rotated. This at least hints at the possibility of a Mac laptop with a display that could be rotated 180 degrees and used as a tablet.
In February Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC) report — as noted by MacRumors — analyst Ross Young say Apple is considering a 20-inch foldable MacBook. In his latest Power On newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman concurs, but says it will likely be a hybrid MacBook/iPad device with a touchscreen keyboard.Young said that a foldable laptop could form a new product category.
If it arrives, it could be a dual-use product: able to work as a notebook with a full-size on-screen keyboard when folded and as a monitor when unfolded and used with an external keyboard. The foldable could also allow for 4K resolutions or higher at the size Apple is investigating, Young added.
As wild as the idea sounds, Apple has filed for multiple patents that hint at foldable Macs, iPhones, and iPads. Included among them are patent filing 10,579,105 and patent filing number 20190163233.
Gurman’s take is this: The company could go with a foldable 20-inch screen attached to a physical keyboard or just have one side of the display serving as a virtual keyboard. I’m told Apple has indeed been exploring a dual-screen, foldable MacBook/iPad hybrid that would take the second approach. It would trade in the physical keyboard and trackpad for a fully touch-screen base.
If see such a device, he thinks it won’t arrive until 2026.
Summary of the patent
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent with technical details: “A portable electronic device is disclosed. The portable electronic device may include a laptop computing device that includes a base portion and a display housing rotationally coupled to the base portion. The base portion includes a fan designed to drive heated air out of the base portion, thus cooling the portable electronic device. A dynamic (movable) air diverter is integrated into the base portion near the fan’s outlet.
“The air diverter is designed to direct airflow from the fan outlet. Moreover, the air diverter can be repositioned by, for example, rotating the display housing relative to the base portion. As a result of the repositioned air diverter, the airflow from the fan outlet is redirected out of the portable electronic device through a different location. The air diverter can be positioned in different discrete locations, or alternatively, can move continuously with the rotational movement of the display housing.”