MacBook Pro leak reveals the world’s largest touchpad

MacBook Pro 2020 13 inch
(Image credit: Apple)

The next MacBook Pro could become more like an iPad than ever before. Yes, Apple's resisted the call of a touchscreen MacBook, but what if the entire space below the keyboard was a giant touchpad?

That's the latest MacBook Pro rumor to cross our desks, and it comes from a patent granted to Apple titled, "Dynamic input surface for electronic devices." And the more I think about this, the more it makes sense for the rumored ARM MacBook.

Getting to the actual fine print of the patent, things sound a little hard to imagine. A "partially-flexible metal contact portion" defines the area of touch input, and a "group of indicators" that "may be holes ... may be selectively illuminated" based on gestures.

And while that is confusing, it makes more sense when the patent notes that the input area size — aka the functional touchpad — may change. The patent notes that the "input area be dynamically varied."

macbook pro all touchpad wrist rest

(Image credit: United States Patent and Trademark Office)

That last part calmed me down a bit, as I was wondering how Apple plans on dealing with folks using the area below the keyboard as wrist rests, as we all do with laptops. Later in the patent, we learn that touch detection modules may be used to prevent certain kinds of interaction, which sound necessary. 

While it sounds crazy, we are still waiting for the MacBook to get a giant makeover, as its design is ever so slowly aging, as competitors innovate. Asus, for example, has been experimenting with giant interactive touchscreens above the keyboard in its ZenBook Pro laptops. And while putting the touchscreen above the keyboard makes more sense to avoid accidental input, it removes the space for a wrist wrest, making things ergonomically annoying.

Of course, since this is patent news, don't go making major buying decisions immediately off of this. Tech titans regularly apply for patents that they have no interest in actually pursuing, but with the intent to block competitors from running with the same idea in the future. 

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Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.