2018 Macs may feature adaptive keyboards for emojis and more

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keyboard-eink
These adaptive keyboards will change according to the app.
Photo: Sonder

Forget about a mere adaptive OLED touchbar for future Macs! According to a new report, Apple is working with an Australian startup to turn future Mac keyboards into a blank slate for users to customize.

The company in question is Sonder Design Pty Ltd., a startup with ties to Apple manufacturer Foxconn. It develops E Ink keyboards, which let users customize keys to include letters from more than one language, or even emojis.

Check out a video showing how its keyboards work below.

Apple is said to be aiming for a 2018 launch for the new keyboards, while the company is also currently in talks to acquire Sonder. Tim Cook reportedly discussed plans for an E Ink keyboard for a future MacBook with the heads of Foxconn and Sonder, during an October 11 meeting in China.

Speaking personally, the idea of a keyboard that can change its keys according to the app you’re using would be a positive move. It’s in keeping with what Steve Jobs introduced with the first iPhone, when he talked about how users didn’t always need the same keys for every app they use. A keyboard like this — in addition to giving Apple a new eye-catching technology — would carry that same philosophy across to the Mac.

It’s an idea Apple has been considering for at least a few years. Back in 2014, I covered a patent application by Apple which described a future Mac keyboard that would support in-key pictograms, symbols, and glyphs. As I wrote at the time:

“Implemented in a future keyboard, this would allow Apple to provide a systems and methods for providing multi-functional keystacks. Essentially this would allow individual keyboard keys to act like mini displays, with symbols for tools like Pages and YouTube, or customized support for additional languages like Arabic and Ancient Greek, or even musical notes and coding functions.”

What do you think of the idea of E Ink keys for future Apple keyboards? Leave your comments below.

Source: WSJ