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MacBook Pros could get this radical redesign to make them thinner

Future MacBook Pros could come with a form of retractable keyboard which could allow for thinner laptops without compromising on tactile key feel. 

At least that’s what we can glean from a new Apple patent, discovered by Patently Apple, that showcases a keyboard design with a mechanism under the keys that allow them to retract when the MacBook has been closed. Crucially the keys are built to pop out and function normally when the machine is in use. 

The patent describes a “selectively magnetizable magnet system” to hold keys in place when they’re not in use. From the look of the diagrams and the patent’s description, it appears that there will be a magnetic material under each key. Those magnets then let the keys retract or expand as needed.

(Image credit: USPTO/APple)

The latest MacBook Pro M1 is pretty slim as it is. But a retractable keyboard could allow for it and potentially a next-generation MacBook Air 2021 to be slimmer and have a keyboard with a decent amount of key travel and tactile feedback. And when the MacBook isn’t in use, the magnetic mechanism could essentially pull the keys into the laptop’s chassis making for a slimmer overall profile when it’s not in use. 

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