WSJ: e-ink keyboards will be a standard feature on 2018 MacBooks

MacBook Pro keyboard backlit 001

Following The Guardian’s report, based on a verified post on Reddit alleging that Apple recently met with representatives from Australian startup Sonder Design to discuss using its dynamic keyboard technology in a future Magic Keyboard, The Wall Street Journal has corroborated that such talks took place on October 11 in China.

However, Sonder CEO Francisco Serra-Martin denied in a press release that the meeting took place. Be that as it may, WSJ claims that the new dynamic keyboards will be a standard feature on next-generation MacBook laptops, which Apple is aiming to launch in 2018.

By giving each key its own e-ink display not unlike that found on Amazon’s Kindle e-readers, keyboard graphics could change on the fly from one app to another.

Sonder Keyboard animation

From the report:

The new keyboards will be a standard feature on MacBook laptops, and will be able to display any alphabet, along with an unlimited number of special commands and emojis, people familiar with the plans said.

The story specifically states that the keyboard technology has been developed by Sonder Design Pty Ltd., an Australian startup backed by iPhone manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group.

The Guardian reported last week that Apple was in talks to acquire Sonder.

According to Sonder’s boss, however, The Guardian article “contains a number of factual errors”. The CEO said he “did not meet Tim Cook on Wednesday, October 12, 2016,” which The Guardian story said he did.

Note that he did not deny allegations that Apple is interested in using Sonder’s dynamic keyboard technology or a potential acquisition.

Be that as it may, a rumored MacBook Pro with a dynamic keyboard could appeal to people who frequently type in more than one language, international businesses and students, creative pros who use software with specialized shortcuts, such as graphic designers and gamers.

Here’s a preview of Sonder’s upcoming $199 e-ink keyboard.

According to one insider, Apple’s implementation of Sonder technology could use a color e-ink display on each key rather than its grayscale counterpart.

Apple is rumored to be unveiling new MacBook Pros at an event later this month.

However, these imminent MacBook Pros are thought to have a brand new OLED function key row that would respond to touch, with the OLED display dynamically changing graphics on the virtual function keys depending on apps you use.

At any rate, it doesn’t really look like the next MacBook Pro will have a full-on e-ink keyboard because the Journal clearly states that Mac notebooks with dynamic keyboards shouldn’t be expected before 2018.

Source: The Wall Street Journal