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Is Apple putting the MacBook Pro Touch Bar in the touchpad?

Apple MacBook Pro touchpad and Touch Bar and keyboard
(Image credit: Future)

Apple's MacBook Pro Touch Bar may be seen as a boondoggle by some, myself included, but it appears Apple's not done putting screens in its keyboard. These mini screens could even land inside the touchpad.

This news comes via a patent report from Apple Insider. U.S. Patent No. 10,585,494, entitled "Auxiliary text display integrated into a keyboard device" includes some imagery with the iconic computing phrase "HELLO WORLD" inside of the space bar. While that didn't seem especially valuable, other examples have me convinced that Apple has some new ideas. 

You know how there are tons of keyboard shortcuts that savvy users know and their ill-informed relatives don't? One image from the patent shows the series of Copy, Paste and Cut shortcuts that could appear in the touchpad, while the user is holding down the Ctrl key. Hilariously, Apple computers don't use the Ctrl key, but the Command key, for these commands. 

MacBook Pro touch bar keyboard and touchpad

(Image credit: USPTO.gov/Apple)

Another example makes the touchpad look a lot like the space above the iOS keyboard. The touchpad, after the user typed "Hello Wo" the touchpad shows multiple options: world, would and work.

MacBook Pro touch bar keyboard and touchpad

(Image credit: USPTO.gov/Apple)

Apple's pitch, in the patent, reads as follows:

"Users may be somewhat limited in their productivity while operating a computer, particularly when entering data through a keyboard. However, few advances have been made in recent years to improve typing efficiency for users operating desktop and laptop computers. Therefore, an improved keyboard design is needed in order to increase efficiency and improve the user experience when typing on desktop and laptop computers."

MacBook Pro touch bar keyboard and touchpad

(Image credit: USPTO.gov/Apple)

There's also an illustration showing the touchpad mirror the desktop (serving, as the patent says, as an "auxilliary display"), and suggests you could drag and drop folders around on the touchpad. That seems a little unnecessary, if you ask me.

Interestingly enough, another illustration shows how this could be applied to a desktop Mac's external keyboard, with a screen touchpad built into the right side. 

MacBook Pro touch bar keyboard and touchpad

(Image credit: USPTO.gov/Apple)

Of course, this (like all patent news) should be taken with a grain of salt. Apple might be thinking about turning this into a reality, but it could also have done this to try and prevent a competitor from doing something similar. Patents are less of a guarantee of intent as they are a sign of some interest.