Originally Posted by Commodification
Translucent or transparent aluminum sounds cool if done properly.
I get images of those plastic PC cases that enthusiasts buy and I don't think seeing the inside of a computer is a nice design. The idea of perforating the case to allow light to pass through was good but the process of making metal fully transparent is probably not feasible nor worthwhile for Apple.
I'd say the next incremental step would be to move away from backlit screens to OLED once they can get the desired colour reproduction. Displays can become very thin to the point that they could have a Macbook Air with both sides of the screen having an OLED panel and when it's shut, it behaves like an iPad and the tapering tilts the display towards you. This way you don't have to do the whole swivelling display mechanism or detachable screen and the back can display an animated Apple logo when open or whatever, no need to add a single unchanging decal.
For it to be capacitive touch with a glass panel, it would need some strengthening but it would help bring in the convergence of iOS and Mac OS. I'd expect it to run on Intel x86 but there would be some benefits to ARM, possibly both together.
But I would say that it will be difficult to innovate beyond the black rectangle as that's about as minimal as you can go short of having special glasses. You could for example have no screen at all and have an augmented reality pair of clear glasses that track a surface like a desk. It would then composite data onto it on both lenses in front of the eyes but composite your hands on top. This way they could turn a hand into a phone, a desk into a computer or a wall into a 60" TV without changing the device form factor. They could even have virtual panels floating in front of you and reverse your tracking movements so you could seem to walk around it, which is great for 3D objects. They already do this kind of thing with phones and things but the physical device limits the scale.
I'd expect the controller to be just a black box and it doesn't even need to transmit power wirelessly. There could be small Li-Ion batteries like large watch batteries that connect onto the glasses and when they run out, just switch them over with another set on the black box and they keep swapping charge. The ideal would be for battery technology to improve dramatically of course with 1000x energy density increase but this may come in time.
When we get to this point, software is going to play a much more important role than hardware and even operating systems. In many ways their job is to get out the way and allow you to focus on apps. There's still a good decade left in hardware before this happens but it'll be interesting to see where it ultimately ends up.