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A real mini Mac mini: Apple patent shows a Mac inside a keyboard

best keyboard apple magic keyboard
(Image credit: Amazon)

Update: Apple's next big patent application suggests that future iPhone cases will do a lot more than just protect your phone

We are apparently looking at two upgrades to the Mac mini this year — one with an M1 Pro processor and the other with the full upgrade to an M2 chip. But what if Apple were to reimagine what the 2022 Mac mini looked like, and put the power of the Mac inside a Magic Keyboard?

Patently Apple has uncovered a patent which shows Apple is at least thinking along these lines. Filed in August 2020, but only published this week, the patent shows a setup where the computer is built into the keyboard — you just need to bring a monitor along. 

You may not even need to bring a mouse — it could include a trackpad to reduce what you need to carry further, though some pictures also show what looks like a Magic Mouse or Trackpad alongside it, which is undoubtedly less convenient.

Apple Magic Keyboard Mac patent

(Image credit: Apple)

To be clear, the idea of putting a computer inside a keyboard isn’t completely original. The Commodore 64 and, more recently, the Raspberry Pi 400 have run with the idea. 

All the same, the fact that a company with Apple’s resources and technical knowhow could be seriously looking at the concept is exciting. We know that the M1, M1 Pro and M1 Max chips offer phenomenal performance with low power drain (and the M1 MacBook Air is fanless), so something like that in the Magic Keyboard form factor could be game changing. 

And while we would imagine this could connect to any screen via HDMI or USB-C, Apple being Apple, it wouldn’t be wholly surprising if there were advantages for those deep in the ecosystem: imagine it connecting wirelessly to your iPad, or to your Apple TV device on the big screen.

Apple Magic Keyboard Mac patent

(Image credit: Apple)

This is, of course, getting massively ahead of ourselves: the internet is littered with patent ideas that never amounted to a commercially available product, and this could ultimately be one of them. 

All the same, it’s certainly interesting to see that Apple isn’t dead set in its ways when it comes to thinking about how the Macs of tomorrow could look. And having worked in a hotdesking office where each desk has a monitor and nothing else, this could be a brilliant way of bypassing the bulkiness of laptops altogether.

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.