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New II: Apple's new patented desktop/keyboard hybrid could signal a classic twist on next-gen portable Mac design

Apple resurrects a legacy form-factor in a new patent. (Source: Wikipedia)
Apple resurrects a legacy form-factor in a new patent. (Source: Wikipedia)
Apple's latest iMac is effectively a monitor with an entire computer packed into it, and thus technically only needs a keyboard to work. Now, the Cupertino giant has patented a new device that is effectively the other way around. Therefore, it may soon pitch this Mac/Magic Keyboard as a new bring-your-own-display device that could be marketed as the most retro revolution in portable desktop technology ever.

Apple has patented what it calls a "computer in an input device", which effectively translates to a keyboard designed to accommodate components of a PC (primarily consisting of a "processing unit and a memory" thus far). Accordingly, the resulting device could conceivably be taken anywhere for use as a full PC rather than a mere peripheral - so long as a monitor is available for it to connect to, obviously.

Accordingly, this new hypothetical type of Mac is more or less the opposite of a current model, which could be referred to as a computer in an output device. Its potentially upcoming counterpart might address the woes of those users who dislike the restriction to a single 24-inch display.

Students of relevant tech history might have spotted that this is a far from new idea, however: in fact, the Cupertino-based OEM once pitched its Apple II as the device to make computing portable back in the 1970s to 1990s.

Whether this potential new version is marketed as the ultimate revival of the same remains to be seen. In any case, Apple's renewed claim (granted by the US Patents and Trademarks Office (USPTO) on February 24, 2022) to the form-factor might raise some very early dongle-life problems faced by users of those legacy PCs: some II-series models even needed an external modem back then, of course.

Then again, it will obviously be far easier for Apple to cram all it needs into what looks like an unusually thick Magic Keyboard these days. On the other hand, the OEM notes that it intends to provide the 'new II' with just 1 cable (equipped with a handy spindle also hidden within the body of the keyboard, ostensibly to preserve its mobility), presumably for a wired monitor connection.

Therefore, a potential user of this 'inverse iMac' might also need to make sure to bring their wireless mouse, at least, along for the ride should they aim to put one of these suddenly-central keyboards.

Buy an Apple Magic Keyboard on Amazon

Apple may turn Mac design in a new direction soon. (Source: USPTO via PatentlyApple)
Apple may turn Mac design in a new direction soon. (Source: USPTO via PatentlyApple)

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2022 02 > New II: Apple's new patented desktop/keyboard hybrid could signal a classic twist on next-gen portable Mac design
Deirdre O'Donnell, 2022-02-26 (Update: 2022-02-26)