Foldable 20-inch iPad-MacBook hybrid could rely on touchscreen keyboard

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited February 27
Apple's rumored 20-inch foldable device could be a hybrid MacBook Pro and iPad, one that may lose the physical keyboard in favor of a software-based version.

An iPad Pro with an attached keyboard. The rumor suggests the device could fold to better support a touchscreen keyboard.
An iPad Pro with an attached keyboard. The rumor suggests the device could fold to better support a touchscreen keyboard.


A rumor surfaced from an analyst on Monday, claiming Apple is exploring making a form of notebook or iPad with a large foldable 20-inch display that could arrive as early as 2025. A report on Sunday corroborated the rumor, making it seem more genuine as a potential future Apple release.

The claim of a device with a "foldable 20-inch screen" is mentioned by Mark Gurman's "Power On" newsletter for Bloomberg as potentially having either type of keyboard. The screen could be "attached to a physical keyboard or just have one side of the display serving as a virtual keyboard," Gurman writes.

A source has reportedly advised that Apple has explored a "dual-screen, foldable MacBook/iPad hybrid." For the concept, Apple would take the approach to "trade in the physical keyboard and trackpad for a fully touch-screen base"

This seemingly tracks with statements made by DSCC analyst Ross Young, who offered the device would be a "true dual-use product" that could offer a "full-size keyboard when folded." When flat and used as a large monitor, it could be "used with an external keyboard."

The proposed product is thought to potentially run at a 4K resolution or higher, given its size. It could also launch by 2025, but is more likely to turn up in 2026 or 2027.

Apple is known to be considering alternate ways to use upcoming technologies and to rethink the designs of existing products, as patent observers can attest. Aside from patents related to foldable smartphones like the rumored iPhone Fold, some certainly point to Apple considering similar ideas to the latest rumor.

For example, in 2018, it was granted a patent for a "dual display" device that looks like a MacBook or an iPad with a very large screen that hinges in the middle. That patent also hints that the lower portion could be used as a temporary keyboard when text input is required.

Numerous patents and applications have also surfaced over the years concerning a so-called "keyless keyboard" concept. This typically involves a MacBook-like device with a secondary screen in the lower section, which could act as a trackpad and keyboard when required.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    dk49dk49 Posts: 224member
    Didn't Craig Federighi said a big "NO" on stage at WWDC on combining Mac OS and iOS? 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 20
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 4,050member
    Based on the predicted time line and description, I call it bs. Apple is all about user experience and this once again, doesn’t provide any. My prediction: no production!
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 20
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,201member
    iToasterFridge
    blurpbleepbloopwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 20
    Because Apple sells a MagicTouch keyboard to convert your haptic, built-in MacBook keyboard with the superior, non-tactile smooth glass surface touch keyboard everyone truly craves.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 20
    Both screens would need to be touch screens or the laptop would be super lame. "You can touch this but not that" would be confusing to everyone.
    mattinoz
  • Reply 6 of 20
    Both screens would need to be touch screens or the laptop would be super lame. "You can touch this but not that" would be confusing to everyone.
    More like, “You can’t touch this! Hammer time”
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 20
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,911member
    dk49 said:
    Didn't Craig Federighi said a big "NO" on stage at WWDC on combining Mac OS and iOS? 
    Then conceded on the Daring Fireball -  Talk Show he's going to need a bigger No. 

    To me, this won't be a mac or an iPad it will be something new. Yes, they'd be crazy if it didn't work with shallow legacy Mac and iPad apps but that still doesn't make it a mac or an iPad. 

    Apple folio maybe.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 20
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,387member
    Apple: Let's work on a tablet.
    Apple Later: You know... this would work better as a phone.

    15 years later:
    Apple: Let's work on a folding phone.
    Apple Later: You know... this would work better as a folding tablet.

    I know a lot of people have their doubts, but I always leave it to Apple to figure out what the best implementation is before I make any judgements.  Sure, they don't always make the best product decisions, but more often than not, it seems to work out.
    mattinozradarthekatpatchythepiratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 20
    Screen with oversized Touch Bar. Nope. Thank you. 
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 10 of 20
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,526moderator
    A 20” iPad at 4:3 aspect ratio would have screen dimensions of 16” x 12”.  

    If that device had a hinge, and a flexible screen, that allowed it to bend up to, say, a 100-110 degree inside angle, it could be bent into the shape of a laptop with a keyboard.  If the laptop portion were to have a 16:10 aspect ratio, that implies the hinge would fold the 16” side into a 12x 7.5” screen side and a 12x8.5” keyboard/trackpad side.  Presumably a Smart Cover, that connects to the device’s 12” side would fold back into a screen-supporting stand for the laptop mode.

    So, the device could be a completely flat iPad with a 20” 4:3 ratio display:  sqrt ( 16^2 + 12^2 ) = 20”

    Or bent into a MacBook with virtual keyboard/trackpad with a 14” 16:10 ratio display:  sqrt ( 12^2 + 7.5^2 ) = 14.15”

    Would be better if those display sizes were reversed, but it is what it is.  There’s only so much display area to work with and the MacBook form factor needs to use some for a keyboard/trackpad.  

    Overall I’d judge this not to be a good compromise. People will want to use the entire display in laptop mode, so an attachable keyboard/trackpad cover on a non-bendable display seems a better option.  But this bendable option is at least potentially more doable versus a device where the screen needs to fold all the way over to a closed position.  

    Please, Apple, if you’re thinking of making a two-in-one iPad+Mac, just give us that device in a few sizes in the existing iPad form factor with attachable keyboard/trackpad covers.  I just want a single, high-quality, hard glass covered screen that can be both touchscreen iPad and Keyboard+mouse/trackpad Mac.  
    edited February 27 watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 20
    Lenovo already has a contender on the Windows 10 side, the Thinkpad X1 Fold at 13”. Optional, a BT keyboard that rests within the folded PC and automatically reserves the top portion to a touchscreen on laptop folded mode or full touchscreen with virtual keyboard/full touchscreen without virtual keyboard and use of BT keyboard. Jury is out on durability but shows potential of designs. 
  • Reply 12 of 20
    palegolaspalegolas Posts: 1,350member
    New concepts is super fun. Touch keyboard is not. It could be a very elegant product though. For me, I’m much more interested in a 20” display with Apple Pencil support in landscape mode. But I doubt a foldable will be Pencil compatible, due to requiring a somewhat softer more flexible screen surface?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 20
    Sounds like a gimmick to me. Apple tests all sorts of form factors and ideas, the trick is deciding which one they should turn into a product 
    radarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 20
    Sounds like a solution in search of a problem. The geek in me still wants them to make it, but I just can’t see the practicality of it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 20
    Let’s see what people think of the Asus Fold 17” model coming out soon. It’s a windows version the same as this but 3” smaller and it comes with a external keyboard.
    patchythepiratewilliamlondon
  • Reply 16 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    DAalseth said:
    iToasterFridge

    That was a good excuse at one time.  But its time has passed.  2 in 1's are a thing and Apple continues to lag behind.  But, that said, doing something stupid isn't going to get them caught up.
    edited February 28
  • Reply 17 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    A 20” iPad at 4:3 aspect ratio would have screen dimensions of 16” x 12”.  

    If that device had a hinge, and a flexible screen, that allowed it to bend up to, say, a 100-110 degree inside angle, it could be bent into the shape of a laptop with a keyboard.  If the laptop portion were to have a 16:10 aspect ratio, that implies the hinge would fold the 16” side into a 12x 7.5” screen side and a 12x8.5” keyboard/trackpad side.  Presumably a Smart Cover, that connects to the device’s 12” side would fold back into a screen-supporting stand for the laptop mode.

    So, the device could be a completely flat iPad with a 20” 4:3 ratio display:  sqrt ( 16^2 + 12^2 ) = 20”

    Or bent into a MacBook with virtual keyboard/trackpad with a 14” 16:10 ratio display:  sqrt ( 12^2 + 7.5^2 ) = 14.15”

    Would be better if those display sizes were reversed, but it is what it is.  There’s only so much display area to work with and the MacBook form factor needs to use some for a keyboard/trackpad.  

    Overall I’d judge this not to be a good compromise. People will want to use the entire display in laptop mode, so an attachable keyboard/trackpad cover on a non-bendable display seems a better option.  But this bendable option is at least potentially more doable versus a device where the screen needs to fold all the way over to a closed position.  

    Please, Apple, if you’re thinking of making a two-in-one iPad+Mac, just give us that device in a few sizes in the existing iPad form factor with attachable keyboard/trackpad covers.  I just want a single, high-quality, hard glass covered screen that can be both touchscreen iPad and Keyboard+mouse/trackpad Mac.  

    A critical part of any laptop is the keyboard.   Apple keeps forgetting that fact sacrificing the keyboard for other priorities (the thin & light butterfly).  Recently they recovered from that fiasco.  But it seems there is still a faction at Apple advocating against fully functional keyboards -- probably the ones who can't yet touch type.
  • Reply 18 of 20
    A 20” iPad at 4:3 aspect ratio would have screen dimensions of 16” x 12”.  

    If that device had a hinge, and a flexible screen, that allowed it to bend up to, say, a 100-110 degree inside angle, it could be bent into the shape of a laptop with a keyboard.  If the laptop portion were to have a 16:10 aspect ratio, that implies the hinge would fold the 16” side into a 12x 7.5” screen side and a 12x8.5” keyboard/trackpad side.  Presumably a Smart Cover, that connects to the device’s 12” side would fold back into a screen-supporting stand for the laptop mode.

    So, the device could be a completely flat iPad with a 20” 4:3 ratio display:  sqrt ( 16^2 + 12^2 ) = 20”

    Or bent into a MacBook with virtual keyboard/trackpad with a 14” 16:10 ratio display:  sqrt ( 12^2 + 7.5^2 ) = 14.15”

    Would be better if those display sizes were reversed, but it is what it is.  There’s only so much display area to work with and the MacBook form factor needs to use some for a keyboard/trackpad.  

    Overall I’d judge this not to be a good compromise. People will want to use the entire display in laptop mode, so an attachable keyboard/trackpad cover on a non-bendable display seems a better option.  But this bendable option is at least potentially more doable versus a device where the screen needs to fold all the way over to a closed position.  

    Please, Apple, if you’re thinking of making a two-in-one iPad+Mac, just give us that device in a few sizes in the existing iPad form factor with attachable keyboard/trackpad covers.  I just want a single, high-quality, hard glass covered screen that can be both touchscreen iPad and Keyboard+mouse/trackpad Mac.  

    A critical part of any laptop is the keyboard.   Apple keeps forgetting that fact sacrificing the keyboard for other priorities (the thin & light butterfly).  Recently they recovered from that fiasco.  But it seems there is still a faction at Apple advocating against fully functional keyboards -- probably the ones who can't yet touch type.
    If Apple is going down this path, here's a general idea what this may look like

    https://www.asus.com/Laptops/For-Home/Zenbook/Zenbook-17-Fold-OLED-UX9702/
    roundaboutnowpatchythepiratewilliamlondon
  • Reply 19 of 20
    thttht Posts: 4,498member
    A 20” iPad at 4:3 aspect ratio would have screen dimensions of 16” x 12”.  
    I think this device would be better off if it was a 20" 3:2 or 16:10, not 4:3.

    If it is 20" 16:10, it would be have H x W of 17" x 10.6". That's a nice aspect ratio for a display, and decent size. Half the screen would be a 13.6" 5:4 display. When in laptop mode or tablet mode, folded 360° (0° is the closed clamshell position), it's doubtful that the hinge area will be useable. That is, un-useable as a touch or input surface, and Apple can blank it out to form a margin. This would decrease the 5:4 to a visible area of something like 5:3.5 in tablet mode. In laptop mode, the hinge are will be a weird display only area? Not sure what, but that 0.5 to 1 inch high display area at the hinge area will look weird.

    10.6" will be enough for 14 full space 0.75" keys, which is what Apple Mac laptop keyboards use. You can also argue that you can use about 4 to 3 inches of display space on the keyboard side to display stuff depending on how you want to implement the software trackpad. Asus has a model that adds like a super wide display above the keyboard to display stuff. It hasn't taken off in sales, so maybe it just isn't enough of a benefit.

    The thing has to be asymmetrically weighted or have backstand for it to be stable in laptop mode.

    I think this would be great as a work laptop for me where I'm shuffling between a work desk and a home desk a lot. I just plop it on a stand in 20" display mode, connect one TB4 cable from the dock or external monitor. It effectively doubles the laptop screen area, and more screen area is always good.
    mattinozwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 20
    DetnatorDetnator Posts: 287member
    A 20” iPad at 4:3 aspect ratio would have screen dimensions of 16” x 12”.  

    If that device had a hinge, and a flexible screen, that allowed it to bend up to, say, a 100-110 degree inside angle, it could be bent into the shape of a laptop with a keyboard.  If the laptop portion were to have a 16:10 aspect ratio, that implies the hinge would fold the 16” side into a 12x 7.5” screen side and a 12x8.5” keyboard/trackpad side.  Presumably a Smart Cover, that connects to the device’s 12” side would fold back into a screen-supporting stand for the laptop mode.

    So, the device could be a completely flat iPad with a 20” 4:3 ratio display:  sqrt ( 16^2 + 12^2 ) = 20”

    Or bent into a MacBook with virtual keyboard/trackpad with a 14” 16:10 ratio display:  sqrt ( 12^2 + 7.5^2 ) = 14.15”

    Would be better if those display sizes were reversed, but it is what it is.  There’s only so much display area to work with and the MacBook form factor needs to use some for a keyboard/trackpad.  

    Overall I’d judge this not to be a good compromise. People will want to use the entire display in laptop mode, so an attachable keyboard/trackpad cover on a non-bendable display seems a better option.  But this bendable option is at least potentially more doable versus a device where the screen needs to fold all the way over to a closed position.  

    Please, Apple, if you’re thinking of making a two-in-one iPad+Mac, just give us that device in a few sizes in the existing iPad form factor with attachable keyboard/trackpad covers.  I just want a single, high-quality, hard glass covered screen that can be both touchscreen iPad and Keyboard+mouse/trackpad Mac.  

    A critical part of any laptop is the keyboard.   Apple keeps forgetting that fact sacrificing the keyboard for other priorities (the thin & light butterfly).  Recently they recovered from that fiasco.  But it seems there is still a faction at Apple advocating against fully functional keyboards -- probably the ones who can't yet touch type.
    If Apple is going down this path, here's a general idea what this may look like

    https://www.asus.com/Laptops/For-Home/Zenbook/Zenbook-17-Fold-OLED-UX9702/

    As much as I hate Windows and PCs, that actually looks pretty neat... I feel like they've considered a lot of sensible practical stuff and few compromises, to make it work well, not just be a silly gimmick.  The display is even 500nits.  Except... 185dpi. And Windows of course.  Ugh.

    Still, nice idea.

    I'm pretty sure I still don't want a touch screen Mac, but if we can get this folding stuff right, I'd love to see something like a 14" laptop that can unfold out three ways to an ultra wide display.
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