With iOS 12, Apple introduced the ability to use an Apple Pencil with iPhone and iPad, which was previously only available on the iPad Pro. Now, the technology giant may be looking to integrate this functionality into its next-generation MacBook line. A recently published patent application shows how it could be used in place of the function row keys currently found on Apple’s computers. Apple Could Be Reimagining the MacBook with an Apple Pencil
Will This Change How We Use MacBooks?
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There’s been much speculation as to whether or not a new version of MacOS will come along and replace macOS, but we don’t really know anything for sure. What we do know is that one of these updates is in development and will be ready before WWDC 2019. We also have some clues about what it might entail. For example, there’s lots of evidence that support for desktop-class apps and other software improvements could be part of its feature set . If Apple is planning on replacing traditional function keys on its laptops, it seems like a natural next step to integrate support for stylus input into MacOS. After all, Microsoft has been doing so since Windows 8. So yeah—this could totally change how we use our Macs!
What Are The Benefits?
The Mac is not just a computer. It’s a laptop and desktop, which means that it has two screens: one on top and one on bottom. The Apple Pencil, or other similar digital stylus, could open up new possibilities by changing how we interact with macOS at home or at work. For example, customers could use their stylus to control their laptop while using it in portrait mode. Additionally,
you might be able to use your favorite iOS apps like Google Chrome or Adobe Illustrator right on your laptop. This would be ideal for graphic designers who need a more powerful workstation than their iPad can provide but don’t have access to a powerful computer when they’re out of the office.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Apple is no stranger to innovation. We live in a world where people ditch their whole phones for just a screen, and now iPhones are as powerful as PCs from only a few years ago. The tech industry doesn’t have time to wait around for tomorrow; if it’s not better today, it’s not going to last long enough to matter at all. The new patent could mean big things for us consumers, but that doesn’t mean everything will work perfectly. We already know pencil technology isn’t quite up to par with our current touch technology; what happens when a situation arises where you want both? While we don’t expect significant issues (we’re trusting Apple here), there are bound to be minor hiccups along the way.
How Apple can take advantage of this
Apple’s design of their devices has always been something to marvel at. The fact that they are continually thinking of new ways to streamline, organize, and make their products user-friendly is what keeps them on top. It’s no surprise that with tech moving towards a more touch and stylus-oriented experience, Apple would want to capitalize on such opportunities. However, instead of building it into a smartphone or tablet—which would cause quite a stir in iOS circles—they decided to extend functionality into one of their other beloved products: The Macbook Pro. Doing so allows for seamless integration and leaves room for future experimentation down the road if users seem to embrace it.
How it would be better than today’s touchscreen experience
Taking a drawing canvas out of Photoshop or Illustrator and putting it directly onto your MacBook screen is, in many ways, insane. But patent applications aren’t just about ideas, they’re also about protecting them. Apple filed its patent more than five years ago, but that doesn’t mean it has given up on pen technology. The company acquired Wacom late last year, which manufactures graphic tablets and pen displays. This might simply be future-proofing: to make sure that if (or when) we all draw on our Macs every day, then at least only one of those tools will require a separate purchase from Apple.
What it could mean for creativity
While both devices focus on drawing and creative work, they’re not exactly identical. The idea of getting rid of function keys or physical keys on laptops has been tossed around in recent years as laptop makers have tried to make computers thinner and lighter. In 2016, Lenovo introduced a clamshell laptop called Yoga Book that had a touch-sensitive keyboard that appeared only when you needed it. This latest move by Apple would seem to indicate that a similar future is in store for its own laptops, potentially allowing for even slimmer and lighter designs than those currently on offer from its rivals. The addition of AI could also provide a boost to creativity.
What it could mean for education
When I originally read about a new patent that imagines a next-generation Apple Pencil and its related functionality, it got me thinking—this could be huge. Not only would it make tasks like taking notes even more convenient and efficient, but I could also see it being used to help students revise their notes or practice writing things out by hand (and if you’re not familiar with recent studies that show handwriting improves learning, then you should check them out). While there are a ton of ways they could go with making things like these possible, we may not have to wait long before we see what they mean for students. The patent was filed just last month, so something new could be on its way fairly soon. And who knows?
What it could mean for multitasking
The new patent describes a system that could allow users to switch between apps by drawing a line across their screen, similar to using Snap in Windows 10. The drawing would put an app in one section of a split-screen and switch focus over to another application, allowing for faster multitasking. If done correctly, Apple Pencil could be more than just a stylus—it could open up functionality that makes it much easier to multitask on Macs, iPads and iPhones. To give users more freedom and power when working on projects that require multiple applications at once, Apple might want to rethink its patent. After all, it’s hard enough for iPad users to find comfort on devices without huge screens; why make them use two hands when they don’t have to?