Tech Habor has heard that Apple is in talks with Sonda Technologies to license the latter’s dynamic E-ink keyboard to replace Apple’s normal keyboard in the 2018 of Mac Laptops.
A new article from the WSJ today confirms that Apple does intend to use the technology and is aiming to ship new Mac Laptops including the special keyboards in 2018. The keys will automatically adjust to show emojis, international characters, special command functions, as well as the standard QWERTY layout.
Apple will be making its first steps in this direction next week, when it unveils a new MacBook Pro with OLED function key row at the October 27 media event where the will unveil new lines of Mac Laptops, Mac Air, iMac, etc. The E-Ink keyboard however slated to be unveiled 2018 could represent the most significant user interface changes for Apple’s line of laptops might not be talked about at the event this up until 2018.
The Wall Street Journal says that Apple CEO Tim Cook discussed its plans with Sonder and Foxconn (Apple manufacturer) at a meeting in China on October 11. The new keyboards would make the bottom half of the Mac laptops as dynamic as the screens. Rather than printed labels, each key would display an E-Ink surface that can update making the keycap labels dynamic, rather than static.
Apple’s Dynamic E-ink keyboard
The keys would be able to switch between different language alphabets, as well as show things like emojis or add dynamic shortcuts for the current task the user is performing. For multi-lingual users, the benefits of a dynamic keyboard are particularly apparent.
The Wall Street Journal says this will become a “standard feature” of MacBooks, which implies it will spread across Apple’s lineup and be featured on the cheaper Airs and more-expensive Pro models.
Some of this new vision will be revealed in the 2016 MacBook Pro, expected to be unveiled next week. That product will substitute the function key row with an OLED touchscreen that can contextually display different commands and controls.
The E-Ink technology will enable to bring that kind of dynamism to every single key on the keyboard. One major discrepancy between OLED and E-Ink is that E-Ink has much slower refresh rates, whereas the OLED display will act just like a normal laptop display.
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