Apple patent hints at dual-screen Macbook, iPad

A patent filed by Apple for a dual-screen, 360-degree hinged device may reveal the next-gen Macbook users have been clamoring for.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • A patent granted to Apple indicates the company may be planning a laptop or tablet with two touchscreens. The patent language is vague, however, which could indicate either a new line of options or something simply in the initial development stage.
  • Patents are not an indicator that a product will come to market, so don't put all your hopes in a future dual-touchscreen Macbook.

A patent awarded to Apple by the US Patent and Trademark Office hints at what Mac users have been hoping would appear for a while: a touchscreen Macbook.

The patent takes things one step further though, showing Apple's plans for a device with two touchscreens, one of which could serve as a keyboard.

The potential device could also simply have a Touch Bar (like the latest generation of Macbooks) and a physical keyboard instead, meaning Apple may be planning for multiple options for future portable computers.

The patented details

The patent, titled "Dual display equipment with enhanced visibility and suppressed reflections," introduces a potential dual-display device with a few particularly interesting features: visibility enhancement, 360- degree hinges, magnetic attachments, and multiple configurations.

Any device with two screens could end up being a mess of reflections and glare, which Apple specifically addresses in the patent, stating that both displays may contain "optical layers ... that may be used to suppress reflections."

SEE: Hardware purchasing task list (Tech Pro Research)

Along with being built to minimize reflection, the patent states that both screens will incorporate elements to provide enhanced viewability when a user is wearing sunglasses. Polarization of sunglasses often results in an unviewable screen, making any solution to that problem a welcomed one.

The two potential hinging options mentioned in the patent, 360- degree rotation and magnetic attachments, hint at two distinct devices: A hybrid laptop/tablet, or a peripheral device for attachment to an iPad. Neowin, in its coverage of the patent announcement, points out that Apple has positioned the iPad Pro as a productivity powerhouse, so it makes sense that Apple would produce a secondary touchscreen keyboard for its premier tablet.

The third distinct element of the patent is its lack of commitment to a single, particular device. All the language in the body of the patent refers to possible configurations, which may indicate that Apple is simply preemptively patenting a concept, or is exploring a variety of different options.

Two different types of hinges mean we could be looking at a Lenovo Yoga competitor, or the advancement of the iPad to full-fledged laptop status. Different second screen possibilities indicate a device with two separate touchscreens or a Touch Bar and a keyboard.

It's worth saying that patents don't mean a new, exciting device is on the way. You can get excited all you want about the potential for Apple finally granting its users' wishes but remain skeptical: Cupertino could just be trying to block someone else from doing it first.

Also see

Image: USPTO/Apple

About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox