Apple is reportedly planning to add touchscreens to its MacBooks, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. It’s a seismic change in the Mac world, as Apple has long held that touchscreens in clamshell laptops don’t go together.
According to the report, the company has engineers “actively engaged” in working with touch, and that it is considering possibly releasing its first touchscreen Mac in 2025, in the form of a MacBook Pro refresh with an OLED screen.
At the moment, Gurman claims that Apple is planning for that MacBook Pro to keep its clamshell design with trackpad and keyboard, and that touch could come to more models down the line. Gurman’s sources say the screen would work with both touch input and gestures, similar to Apple’s tablets and phones.
OLED would also be a big move. Apple’s 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros use Mini LED technology, but haven’t moved to OLED, which can be found with touch on many Windows notebooks. Gurman claims OLED will also come to the iPad Pro in 2024.
In theory, adding touch should be quite a bit of work, as macOS would also need to be retooled for larger touch targets. But some of the work is done: Apple already allows developers to put iPhone and iPad apps on Mac, so those should be great examples of how to develop other software (In fact, some of the apps feel awkward using a traditional touchpad, because of their touch-first design).
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs railed against touchscreens. “Touch surfaces don’t want to be vertical,” Jobs said in 2010. “It gives great demo but after a short period of time, you start to fatigue and after an extended period of time, your arm wants to fall off. It doesn’t work. It’s ergonomically terrible.” Current CEO Tim Cook has also said touch didn’t work with a clamshell laptop. If you want touch, Apple has maintained, get an iPad.
But as Apple designs its laptops around its own silicon, it seems the company may be reconsidering some of those previous ideas. If Gurman’s sources are right and a touchscreen Mac ships, it would offer choices that many of the best ultrabooks running Windows have had for years.
Apple has previously offered a tiny touch screen — the Touch Bar, on the 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro (it still lives on in the smaller size), but that never gained a huge following.