Apple looking to the past, working on how to put a Mac in a keyboard

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Comments

  • Reply 21 of 41
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,844member
    DAalseth said:

    EDIT: Yes I know laptops are essentially the same thing. Somehow users seem to treat laptops better than desktop keyboards. Not sure why, but over the years I replaced a lot of keyboards that got destroyed by users in various creative ways. Wasn't nearly as much of a problem with a laptop.
    I think it's human nature to be more careful if you know that the damage you can cause through carelessness is going to be bigger and more expensive?
    watto_cobrathtmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 22 of 41
    dewme said:
    Apple recently migrated the network adapter into the iMac's power brick. Along that path, I suggest that Apple move the entire computer into the power brick. 
    ... which pretty much describes the Mac mini, Apple TV, and many other "mini" personal computers already on the market. 
    I agree with you. I knew someone would make that response. And my comment was about 50% facetious.
  • Reply 23 of 41
    mike1mike1 Posts: 3,072member
    This actually could be very useful for hospitals, clinics, or other businesses where cost and security/privacy are factors. In a hospital setting it could also reduce pathogen spread by having one device per person, rather than the current situation which is basically a computer orgy, with dozens of people using the same computer each day. It's also a huge pain in the ass to log into secure networks (eg hospital networks), with a long authentication process that looks like it was invented in the 90s, which could easily be fixed by a quick Touch ID press. It would be so nice not to have to use crappy windows computers at every hospital and clinic I work at. Save me, Apple!
    Very true.
    Amazing how some people can't fathom use cases outside their own little bubbles.
    patchythepiratebadmonkwatto_cobra
  • Reply 24 of 41
    alexjenn said:
    A nowadays Commodore C64.
    As a former C64 owner, that's the part of this that has me a wee bit nostalgic. But only a wee bit.

    Don't get me wrong, just doing it would be quite a design and engineering feat. But unless this is their Mac mini replacement (this time just BYOM—Bring Your Own Monitor) and priced accordingly, it seems like a non-starter as a real product.

    But again, as others have pointed out, Apple patents lots of things. This seems unlikely as a product.

    However, it does get one thinking about what Apple might be thinking. What about a new Cube—with rounded edges similar to the newest MBPs—to replace the Mac mini? Maybe 5" a side (actually provides about 50% more volume than the current Mac mini does)?



    I could even see Apple putting it on a stand:



    P.S. Anyone here with the skills to whip up a mockup/concept photo?
    edited February 25 watto_cobra
  • Reply 25 of 41
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    designr said:
    alexjenn said:
    A nowadays Commodore C64.
    As a former C64 owner, that's the part of this that has me a wee bit nostalgic. But only a wee bit.

    Don't get me wrong, just doing it would be quite a design and engineering feat. But unless this is their Mac mini replacement (this time just BYOM—Bring Your Own Monitor) and priced accordingly, it seems like a non-starter as a real product.

    But again, as others have pointed out, Apple patents lots of things. This seems unlikely as a product.

    However, it does get one thinking about what Apple might be thinking. What about a new Cube—with rounded edges similar to the newest MBPs—to replace the Mac mini? Maybe 5" a side (actually provides about 50% more volume than the current Mac mini does)?



    I could even see Apple putting it on a stand:



    P.S. Anyone here with the skills to whip up a mockup/concept photo?
    Reminds me of the Boxee
  • Reply 26 of 41
    dewme said:
    So what is fundamentally different between this and the current Raspberry Pi 400, other than the Apple end products having higher end components? Well, that and the several hundred plus more dollars an Apple product would cost.
    I mean, what's the difference between a Raspberry Pi 4 and a Mac mini, other than the Apple having higher end components (and a nice case, and macOS?)
    They both have ARM processors and USB, right? Just run iRaspbian and nobody will ever know the difference.  :) 

    The performance is similar too - Raspberry Pi 4  scores around 300/800 on GeekBench while Mac mini only scores 1712/7427 - the Mac isn't even 6x faster for single core performance, and less than 10x faster for multicore. The Mac's internal flash storage is only about 3GB/sec vs. 44MB/sec for the Pi's SD card. How can Apple even think of charging $699 for a Mac mini vs. $45 for a Pi 4 with 2GB RAM and no storage, case, or power supply? 

    disclaimer: in spite of the above, I really like the Raspberry Pi 4 and I think the Pi 400 is a nice nod to classic computers like the Commodore 64, while retaining the accessible GPIO pins that make the Pi so great for microcontroller projects and experiments.
    edited February 25 watto_cobra
  • Reply 27 of 41
    danoxdanox Posts: 1,323member
    Apple's Magic Keyboard may one day become more magical, and possibly a little thicker, as the company is working on ways to include an entire Mac within a keyboard.




    Steve Jobs made a big of thing of how the little Mac mini was a BYODKM, or Bring Your Own Display, Keyboard, and Mouse, device. Now it seems Apple is looking at cutting that down even further, to when all you need to bring is your own display.

    "Computer in an input device," is a newly-revealed patent application that proposes an entire Mac that's the size of a keyboard. And would also be a keyboard.

    Reminiscent of countless 1980s computers like the Apple II, Vic 20, and the Sinclair QL, a computer made following this patent application would look like it was just a keyboard. It would be bigger or taller than a current Apple Magic Keyboard, but perhaps not by all that much.

    "A strong demand for portable computing devices which also deliver high performance," says the patent application, "has driven miniaturization and reduction in size of the once bulky computing components used to power and drive the devices."

    "Components, such as processors, batteries, memory, integrated circuits, and the like," it continues, "are now being manufactured within smaller footprints to provide lightweight and thin portable computing devices."

    Apple argues that therefore "further tailoring of housing designs, shapes, and configurations to provide additional or enhanced device functionality" is possible - and desirable.

    That's really the thrust of the entire patent application, as the majority of its more 130,000 words is detailing methods for ventilating such a keyboard to keep components cool.

    There are, though, multiple references to making such a device even more portable. For one instance, Apple says that the "computing device can be foldable about an axis."

    And for another, "where a user might desire the device... to have wireless internet connectivity, [it[ can include a cellular antenna."

    Detail from the patent application showing the whole stack from keys at the top to computer components at the bottom
    Detail from the patent application showing the whole stack from keys at the top to computer components at the bottom


    That comes in a section that is really concerned the space available for components, more than it is about what the specific components would be. It does argue what they do not have to be, though: its own display.

    "This device configuration can allow a user to carry a single computing device," says Apple, "that can provide a desktop computing experience at any location having one or more computer monitors."

    This patent application is credited to three inventors, including Brett W. Degner. His previous related work includes a patent concerning making an iMac from one sheet of glass.

    Read on AppleInsider

    I don’t need a Amiga 1200, but there are many who would buy a Mac M2 1200….
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 28 of 41
    You would hope this patent doesn’t go through, due to the preexisting computers that used this form factor, as well as the obviousness of it.  Problem is, though, our patent system is and has been for some time, a complete joke.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 29 of 41
    XedXed Posts: 1,513member
    DAalseth said:
    How could Apple possibly think this was patentable. The article mentions several examples of prior designs.
    You'd be hard pressed to look up a patent that didn't reference a plethora of prior patents.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 30 of 41
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    This has the capability to greatly expand the functionality of Apple's product lines:
    Simply add a trackpad to the keyboard and use an iPad for its display.

    Suddenly you have a device capable of being both the best tablet in world instantly switchable to being the best laptop in the world (by eliminating any hardware and software limitations currently inherent in each).

    So what's not to like?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 31 of 41
    mike1 said:
    ...
    Based on the limited info provide here, it appears that the "computer in a keyboard" is not what they are looking to patent. There are specific implementation ideas that might be patented.

    Apple argues that therefore "further tailoring of housing designs, shapes, and configurations to provide additional or enhanced device functionality" is possible - and desirable. That's really the thrust of the entire patent application, as the majority of its more 130,000 words is detailing methods for ventilating such a keyboard to keep components cool.
    There are, though, multiple references to making such a device even more portable. For one instance, Apple says that the "computing device can be foldable about an axis."
    The thing is, with a patent it's all about the claims. What is protected is defined by the claims, not the text, and the patentability is based on what the claims state. Furthermore if there are claims that build on previous claims (as there are in this application) then if the earlier claims can not be patented then the later claims can not either. In this patent application the very first claim is:

    1) A computing device, comprising:
    • * an enclosure at least partially defining an internal volume and an external surface;
    • * a keyboard positioned at the external surface;
    • * a processing unit disposed within the internal volume;
    • * a memory communicatively coupled to the processing unit, the memory disposed within the internal volume;
    • * a singular input/output port positioned at an orifice defined by the enclosure and communicatively coupled to the processing unit and the memory, the singular input/output port configured to: receive signals and power; and output signals from the processing unit.
    The first four bullet points are a Raspberry Pi 400 or numerous older machines that have been noted in the comments above. The last bullet point is the single USB-C connector on a 2015 MacBook, or if you want to go by the shape of the box, the single connector on an Apple Bluetooth Magic Keyboard can be used both to charge the keyboard and to connect it as a wired keyboard if desired. That is what they are asking to patent; all the subsequent claims in this patent ultimately refer back to claim 1 and the rest of the 130,000 words don't matter.

    So the question before the patent office is "Does removing all but one connector on a keyboard-sized computer warrant a patent?" I don't think it does, but the USPTO doesn't have a great track record on these things.
    watto_cobramuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 32 of 41
    Apple could do this right now with m1. 

    But it’s not a great concept. 

    Solution looking for a problem. 
  • Reply 33 of 41
    Apple could do this right now with m1. 

    But it’s not a great concept. 

    Solution looking for a problem. 

    From the beginning Apple has succeeded by solving problems people didn't know they had -- till Apple solved them.
  • Reply 34 of 41
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,830moderator
    Apple could do this right now with m1. 

    But it’s not a great concept. 

    Solution looking for a problem. 
    There would be some good use cases for it like people who always take a computer between home and work but don't need to carry a display. They could make it nearly as compact as a mini Apple keyboard.

    The price is the main thing that would hold it back if it's too close to the Air. Price would be somewhere between a $699 mini and $999 Macbook Air - a mini + battery + keyboard or an Air minus display so $799-899. The Air would still be the best option for most people.

    It would be an alternative to an iMac for some. There would have to be a cable at the back of the keyboard but that wouldn't matter so much. Like the following design but no touchbar:



    The battery wouldn't have to be as big as a laptop because it's not powering the display and it would be plugged in most of the time.

    It would be a slightly unusual setup for people with custom keyboards but no different from a laptop.

    Potentially it could replace the Mac mini. Just now the mini design doesn't suit its components. Apple has likely considered how to design it better for the M-series chips. They will regularly review their designs and think of how they can improve the setup. This image is on Apple's site for the mini:



    Putting the parts from the mini inside the keyboard would improve that. If they sold a 24" XDR display for $599-799, that would be a nice setup.

    If it replaced the mini, it would be harder to use the mini as a server but perhaps there would be a smaller server version too. These can be powered over USB C like the laptops because they draw so little power. It would have 2x USB-C and HDMI on the back.

    I could see them being requested in education environments.

    https://www.umb.edu/it/labs/student_info/gul

    The PC setups are very messy with cables. The iMacs allow for very clean desks but start at $1299. The mini is cheaper starting at $699 but doesn't have much less cable clutter. Putting it in the keyboard would be a cheaper setup than the iMac with less cabling and desk space used than a separate mini.
    edited February 27 patchythepirate
  • Reply 35 of 41
    Marvin said:
    Apple could do this right now with m1. 

    But it’s not a great concept. 

    Solution looking for a problem. 
    There would be some good use cases for it like people who always take a computer between home and work but don't need to carry a display. They could make it nearly as compact as a mini Apple keyboard.

    The price is the main thing that would hold it back if it's too close to the Air. Price would be somewhere between a $699 mini and $999 Macbook Air - a mini + battery + keyboard or an Air minus display so $799-899. The Air would still be the best option for most people.

    It would be an alternative to an iMac for some. There would have to be a cable at the back of the keyboard but that wouldn't matter so much. Like the following design but no touchbar:



    The battery wouldn't have to be as big as a laptop because it's not powering the display and it would be plugged in most of the time.

    It would be a slightly unusual setup for people with custom keyboards but no different from a laptop.

    Potentially it could replace the Mac mini. Just now the mini design doesn't suit its components. Apple has likely considered how to design it better for the M-series chips. They will regularly review their designs and think of how they can improve the setup. This image is on Apple's site for the mini:



    Putting the parts from the mini inside the keyboard would improve that. If they sold a 24" XDR display for $599-799, that would be a nice setup.

    If it replaced the mini, it would be harder to use the mini as a server but perhaps there would be a smaller server version too. These can be powered over USB C like the laptops because they draw so little power. It would have 2x USB-C and HDMI on the back.

    I could see them being requested in education environments.

    https://www.umb.edu/it/labs/student_info/gul

    The PC setups are very messy with cables. The iMacs allow for very clean desks but start at $1299. The mini is cheaper starting at $699 but doesn't have much less cable clutter. Putting it in the keyboard would be a cheaper setup than the iMac with less cabling and desk space used than a separate mini.
    This would be a very good solution for people looking to use bigger display or extreme portability. No monitor to plug in? No problem. Use an HDMI cable to connect to a TV. 
  • Reply 36 of 41
    1348513485 Posts: 243member
    Yes, by all means, please reduce upgradability and repairability even more than they already are.
    Look at the illustrations. What part of that looks unrepairable, or not able to be upgraded? Can you use a screwdriver?

    But I realize you have a long string of negative posts to maintain.
    williamlondonDetnator
  • Reply 37 of 41
    1348513485 Posts: 243member
    robaba said:
    You would hope this patent doesn’t go through, due to the preexisting computers that used this form factor, as well as the obviousness of it.  Problem is, though, our patent system is and has been for some time, a complete joke.
    I don’t know why more people don’t understood how patents work. It’s not the concept being applied for, it’s the specific claims in the patent application that are/may be patentable. So a computer-in-keyboard product from 30 years ago might be totally irrelevant, assuming it was patented. The patent application would cite the prior art and argue that the current invention was unique. Sometimes this is insurmountable, I don’t think this one would be.
  • Reply 38 of 41
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,944member
    Let's tie 2 rumours together. If the mac (C64) can use the folding 20inch iPad as a screen as a feature you have a pretty interesting portable powerhouse.  
    Detnator
  • Reply 39 of 41
    alexjenn said:
    A nowadays Commodore C64.
    Along with Atari's 400 and 800 models.
  • Reply 40 of 41
    LeoMCLeoMC Posts: 84member
    Take the MacBook, remove the display and battery and you got a BYOD.
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