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Could Apple’s next generation of MacBooks kill the physical keyboard entirely?

A new Apple patent has been spotted, which appears to describe a laptop equipped with a second screen instead of a physical keyboard.

It suggests the company is toying with the idea of getting rid of the physical keyboard entirely, and replacing it with a touch-sensitive interface.

The patent, which was submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office in February, describes a device comprising a pair of “housings that rotate relative to each other about a hinge axis” − essentially a laptop.

Related: MacBook Pro

“A first display may be mounted in the first housing and a second display may be mounted in the second housing,” the document continues, before adding that the second housing could also contain a keyboard and trackpad.

As the wording isn’t clear, it difficult to tell if the intention is to integrate the trackpad and keyboard into the second screen, or allow them to live separately alongside it.

The patent also suggests users would need to wear a special pair of sunglasses, in order to use the device properly.

“Polarizer layers and other optical layers in the displays may be configured to provide a viewer with the ability to view images on the displays while wearing vertically polarized sunglasses and to suppress reflections of light emitted by the first display off of the second display,” reads the document.

Apple hasn’t been afraid to rock the boat in the past, with its ditching of the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 and introduction of shallow ‘butterfly’ key switches back in 2017 proving particularly controversial.

But forcing future MacBook users to wear sunglasses and replacing the laptop’s physical keyboard altogether might be a little too extreme.

As is always the case with a patent, however, there’s every chance Apple might never turn its vision into an actual product, so there might not be anything to worry about after all.

Do laptops with virtual keyboards have a place in the future? Tell us your thoughts @TrustedReviews.

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