Get ready, because Apple may “invent” the decade-old Microsoft Surface concept. The company’s latest patent describes a 2-in-1 laptop with a detachable screen. Notably, this device seems to use a macOS-like UI, at least when it’s docked.
At the very least, Apple is thinking about a MacBook that has a touchscreen, can run in a “tablet” mode, and supports a stylus (which shows up in the patent). But there’s a decent chance that we’re looking at a combination iPad and MacBook.
Microsoft did a poor job executing this concept with Windows 8, which was supposed to bounce between a tablet and PC interface to encourage 2-in-1 hardware design. But Apple is in a much better position than Microsoft was a decade ago. The iPad and MacBook both run on an M1 processor, so in theory, a Mac that doubles as an iPad isn’t that crazy.
Now, as Windows Central notes, Apple used to be very dismissive of Microsoft’s 2-in-1 concept. In 2012, Tim Cook explained that “you can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not gonna be pleasing to the user.” Steve Jobs expressed similar ideas when showing off the first iPad—basically, “jack of all trades, master of none” isn’t Apple’s bag.
I hope that Apple combines the iPad and Mac, but patents don’t always come to life. And to be frank, a device like this would violate Apple’s product strategy; the company prefers distinct device categories without much overlap. Also, I have a feeling that this kind of product would open the door to sideloading apps on the iPad, which Apple wants to avoid.