Apple is widely expected to announce new MacBooks in a few more days, but rumors are already doing the rounds about what’s next for the company’s laptop family. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Apple's eventual 2018 MacBook refresh will feature a customizable e-ink keyboard that will be able to display any alphabet, emojis and context-sensitive buttons for whatever application is active at the moment.
The Journal’s report cites its own unnamed sources and follows similar reports by The Guardian and a now deleted Reddit post claiming that Apple was in talks to acquire Australian startup Sonder Design, which is launching its own Bluetooth E-Ink keyboard later this year.
The report mentions that Tim Cook met with Sonder in China last week to talk about using the keyboard technology, although Sonder has already come out to deny those claims.
Even talks have taken place there are no guarantees we'll actually see a MacBook with the e-ink keyboard technology in the future. The company often develops and tests new products and features but they don’t always make it to market.
Of course this wouldn’t be the first customizable keyboard to hit the market. A few years ago garnered a lot of attention when their Optimus Maximus, finally began shipping in 2008 with an obscene price tag of around $1,500. It followed up with the Optimus Popularis in 2010 and that one sold for around $1,000, still limiting its mass-market appeal.
Apple’s upcoming refresh for the MacBook line could take a first step in the direction of a fully customizable keyboard. The new laptops are expected to use a customizable OLED display bar in place of function keys — we’ll know for sure before the end of the month.