Its move from Intel-based processors to ARM-based processors is one that Apple has telegraphed officially since the announcement at WWDC 2020, with the first macOS on ARM machines for the public expected to be a MacBook and a MacBook Pro. The insides are changing, but what about the outside.
For now, your new Mac is going to look remarkably like your old Mac (possibly with slightly smaller bezels around a slightly larger screen). But Apple’s latest documents have confirmed that the company is working on a radical redesign of the laptop hinge.
Although it looks like Microsoft got there first with the Surface Book’s fulcrum hinge.
The details on the new hinge come from a recently published patent. Titled “Hinges For Electronic Devices And Accessory Devices”, it details a hinge that is made up from a mix of rolling elements with fixed elements between them. This allows for a hinge that looks remarkably close to the hinge on the aforementioned Surface Book. Jack Purcher reports for Patently Apple:
“The new hinge system is also shown in conjunction with a possible future MacBook-like portable device. Microsoft was first to move to a flexible hinge system for their Surface book and Apple’s next-gen flexible hinge presents a similar style of hinge though technically different using multi-roller and spacer elements.
“Apple’s possible next-gen iPad keyboard accessories are shown to include multiple sections and a new hinge system assembly that provides additional flexibility and range of motion of the section holding the iPad, thereby allowing a user to position the iPad at multiple different angles relative to the section carrying the input mechanism.”
As can be seen, the patent is not restricted to a traditional laptop-styled device. It also features in a concept image of a keyboard and stand for a tablet device, and a ‘reverse opening’ hinge to lift up a screen from a laptop chassis.
It’s also worth noting that, although the line drawings in the patent echo the Surface Book, the mechanisms inside will differed and of course any finalised form may take on other characteristics.
And as with every patent, the act of filing a patent and having it published does not mean that the design will reach any retail devices. To balance that out, Apple has already pushed the design mix of tablet accessories with the iPad Pro’s Magic Keyboard, so its makes sense that imultiple hinge technologies have been both tested and patented.
Once Apple has redefined what it means to be a MacBook on the inside, it certainly has the tools to do the same to the outside. First up though, it needs to successfully launch the ARM-based laptops by the end of 2020.