Yet, travel back just over a decade ago, back to early 2007 when Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs introduced the original iPhone. No keyboard. The keyboard was on the screen, a lively popup that appeared when needed, disappeared when not needed. Fast forward to the future. Does the Mac need a keyboard?
The physical keyboard for smartphones and tablets was killed when the iPhone debuted in mid-2007. In just a few short years the mobile device keyboard mongers– Nokia, BlackBerry, et al– were toast as the onscreen keyboard became the de facto way to type; albeit one or two fingers at a time.
OK, back to that fast forward to the future moment. Does the Mac need a keyboard? My life’s work is accomplished via that keyboard so it’s likely I will scoff and sneer and snort at the first notebook computers that arrive sans a physical keyboard. Gregory Bryant from Intel on the future of screens and keyboards:
You’re going to see secondary displays, you’re going to see other [ways] of interacting with that [PC] platform, You’ll probably see foldable displays, you’ll see things that are bendable, you’ll see things that fit in your purse. One of the most obvious things you’ll see is things that just don’t look like the traditional or legacy PC.
That doesn’t exactly sound like a definitive onscreen solution for a keyboard, does it? Or, does it?
Wait. Isn’t that just a cheap looking ring binder with an iPad on one side and a legal notebook on the other?
It could also be a single device– somewhat traditional tablet on the left, and the so-called digital ink screen on the right. Two. Two tablets in one device.
Think dual screen notebook. A screen for viewing. A screen for writing that can also double as a screen for typing– much the way the original iPhone’s screen worked. These and similar concepts were on display at a trade show in Taipei recently and give a glimpse of where the future may be.
Claire Reilly grabbed an image of Intel’s Tiger Rapids project which marries two touchscreens into a single device; each with different screens for different purposes.
Let me state the obvious. The Mac does not need a keyboard.
Fast forward to a place on the space time continuum where the Mac of the future is being introduced during an Apple event; one where Kevin Lynch as CEO shows off a dual-touchscreen Mac. It may look like an iPad with dual screens, but how about if we call it a Mac? A Mac with an Apple-designed CPU that is screen on four sides; inside fold, and outside front and back. The inside screens are for screen and keyboard. The outside screens are solar panels. No battery needed.
This once and future Mac’s keyboard is like the keyboard on today’s iPad Pro– full size, but fully software, yet with iPhone-like haptic feedback so it looks and feels just like a real keyboard, but software controls the key sizes, language, and features that include a good old fashioned clickety-clack.
I’d buy one. That may be the only Mac available in the future anyway.