Last week, reports emerged that Apple was in talks with Australian start-up Sonder to integrate its E-Ink keyboard technology into forthcoming MacBooks.
A Sonder spokesperson subsequently confirmed to TrustedReviews that the company “has been in discussions with Apple’s procurement board regarding Sonder’s laptop module.”
But now, a new report from the Wall Street Journal seemingly confirms that Apple will use the technology in future laptops, and that such devices could be available as early as 2018.
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Sonder’s technology is a smart keyboard module that features a backlit e-ink display which allows for shortcut and language-swapping.
Citing ‘people familiar with the plans’, WSJ reports: “The new keyboards… will be able to display any alphabet, along with an unlimited number of special commands and emojis.”
That means the updated keyboards would be dynamic rather than static, featuring E-Ink below each key so that they keys can change depending on the user’s needs.
Specific keys could change to show different language characters, emojis, or represent dynamic shortcuts for the current software being used on the laptop.
Here’s a video of the tech in action:
The WSJ says the new keyboards will become a “standard feature” on future MacBooks, and possibly MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros.
Apple is preparing to unveil the latest update to its MacBook range at an event next week, where we’re expecting to be introduced to laptops that feature a new OLED panel at the top of the keyboard.
The touchscreen panel is said to be able to display different commands depending on what the user is doing on-screen.
Whether future MacBooks will feature the OLED panel alongside the E-Ink keyboards remains unclear, but it seems we haven’t got as long as we thought before we find out.
Of course, Apple is yet to confirm any of the information, so at this point, the whole thing isn’t official. But stay tuned for all the latest updates from Apple’s October 27 MacBook event.
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Let us know if you’d like to see a MacBook with an E-Ink display in the comments.