Touchscreen Macs could make use of haptic feedback, according to new patent

A 2023 14-inch MacBook Pro on a wooden counter, near a retro lamp.
(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / Future)

Given that the best iPads in the line seem to be becoming more and more like a MacBook with a touchscreen, it could be seen how Apple might never bother to put a touch-sensitive panel on any Macs. This patent could show its intent, however, as it seems as though there may be a future in reach where the best MacBook has a touchscreen.

In a patent reported by Patently Apple, it looks as though there are at least ideas to bring touch screens to Macs, with the inclusion of what Apple calls 'advanced haptics.'

Touch screens that feel like buttons

Apple patent for touch screen macbook

(Image credit: Patently Apple)

For those unaware, haptic feedback uses small vibration motors to make touching a screen feel like pressing a button. Popularised with the Touch ID buttons on some of the best iPhones, and the screen of Apple Watch models, you'll also find it on the touchpad of your MacBook Pro 14-inch, among others. This isn't the first time that Apple will have used its advanced haptics in its products – and not even the first time it's been behind a screen.

This does show that there is some chance that Apple might put a touch screen on its Macs at some point, however – something it has long said it would never do. This patent echoes a sentiment shared by Craig Federighi, Apple's Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, during an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

When asked whether there would ever be a touchscreen Mac, the party line seemed to have changed. Where there was a definitive no, now there was a more open-ended "Who's to say," showing that Apple is now considering other input methods for its computer line.

The patent in question puts haptic motors behind the main display of a MacBook to provide 'localized haptic feedback.' The image of the patent shows different haptic zones, so it's likely that they'll cover the whole screen in some form. Either way – there could be a touchscreen MacBook. As with all patents, it's worth watching out rather than waiting with bated breath, as these things don't always materialize.

Tammy Rogers
Buying Guides and Deals Writer

As the Buying Guides and Deals writer for iMore, Tammy puts over a decade of experience in finding the best prices of Apple products to work, helping you save money on the equipment that you want. An audiophile at heart, she loves all things audio and visual, but you’ll also find her drooling over the latest Macs and MacBooks. With a Masters in screenwriting, Tammy likes to spend her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays or driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.