MacBooks with touchscreens could finally happen — here’s the proof

MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021 sitting on a patio table
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I’ve been wanting Apple to make a touchscreen MacBook for years; a touch-capable screen on my MacBook Air M2 would make it even more of a joy to use, being the easy cure for the odd time I suddenly lose track of the cursor on the 13.6-inch display. But so far, touchscreen MacBooks have been a big old no from Apple. 

However, a new patent has been surfaced by Patently Apple, showing how the Cupertino crew has applied for a patent that would add a touchscreen and haptic feedback to the display of a very MacBook-looking laptop. While this patent hasn’t been granted, it’s an indication Apple is at least flirting with the idea of a touchscreen MacBook, 

So far, Apple appears to have kept touchscreens away from MacBook, likely in a bid to create enough separation between them and its iPads, especially as the likes of the iPad Pro have become more laptop-like over the past few generations.  

But a whole suite of the best Windows laptops come with touchscreens, so for Apple’s MacBook to remain relevant in the coming years, it could be argued it’s time Apple embraced the idea of jabbing at icons on a laptop display. 

What’s interesting in this patent is the number of haptic modules around the laptop, not just behind the display. 

an image of the Apple MacBook touchscreen patent

(Image credit: Apple/Patently Apple)

Current MacBooks already make good use of haptics with the Force Touch trackpad is pretty much my favorite trackpad on any laptop. But more haptic modules could provide greater force feedback perhaps offering extra tactility to typing as well as make for a more interactive touchscreen.

All about touch  

While patents can be an indication of creative ideas rather than a full statement of intent, a touchscreen MacBook would make a lot of sense. MacOS has support for iOS apps, and so a touchscreen would make them easier to interact with as using a mouse and keyboard in mobile apps can be surprisingly unintuitive. 

I enjoy using Apple Arcade on my MacBook Air, but I’d certainly appreciate some touch controls for the games that don’t feel natural to navigate with a cursor. And the same applies to some photo editing tools, where sometimes I’d just love to be able to manipulate a slider with a simple touch of my finger rather than sliding the cursor around. 

Now, we don’t expect to see a touchscreen MacBook at WWDC 2023. Apple is good at keeping secrets but such information would likely have leaked by now. Yet, in the coming years, I’d be hopeful of finally seeing a MacBook that embraces touch controls, even if it does end up encroaching on the iPad Pro’s arena. 

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Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.