While current portable Macs already uses magnets to stop their displays from accidentally opening in a bag, the patent appears to suggest that Apple has worked on a new system that would lock the display in place and require a specific action to unlock.
The patent was published by the US Patent & Trademark Office but it isn't immediately clear if or when Apple will apply it to shipping products.
A force of attraction
The new patent was spotted by Patently Apple and describes magnetic latches that could be coupled using a rotational magnetic field. When the magnetic field is applied it would rotate the magnetic latch to either lock or unlock it.
The patent shows magnets placed around the outside of a laptop's chassis, with accompanying magnets likely placed within the edges of the device's display.
The magnets used in modern Mac laptops are easily separated, but this patent allows for magnets that would not be unlatched unless someone specifically chose for that to happen.
Security is the obvious reason to take this new approach, with MacBooks and their displays unable to even be seen without first unlocking the magnetic latches. It's possible that Apple could apply a new level of biometric authentication to make that happen — by perhaps placing a Touch ID sensor on the outer casing and having the magnets disengage when a biometric challenge is satisfied.
It's important to remember that this is only a patent at this point, however. Apple and its engineers patent lots of things each and every year and not all of them turn into shipping products or features. Whether this particular patent will ever see the light of day is anyone's guess at this point, but it's good to see Apple not resting on its laurels when it comes to MacBook innovation.
Master your iPhone in minutes
iMore offers spot-on advice and guidance from our team of experts, with decades of Apple device experience to lean on. Learn more with iMore!
Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.
You know what I would absolutely dig? Magsafe magnets behind the screen where the webcam is to hold in place an iPhone 12/13/14/... as a webcam. I know belkin already offers accessories for continuity camera but this would be soo neat. But i guess there isn't enough space and it might interfere with the display...Reply
That sounds like a great idea! Also, hello, and welcome to iMore!migros8 said:You know what I would absolutely dig? Magsafe magnets behind the screen where the webcam is to hold in place an iPhone 12/13/14/... as a webcam. I know belkin already offers accessories for continuity camera but this would be soo neat. But i guess there isn't enough space and it might interfere with the display...