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Apple rules out touchscreen MacBook, despite M1 and Big Sur hints

Look, if Apple was going to release a touchscreen MacBook, it probably would have by now. But that hasn’t stopped the rumour mill churning.

When the company released the iOS-inspired macOS Big Sur, speculation again began to mount that Apple would finally embrace touch for its computing line and attempt to rival the Surface Pro range of Windows 10 machines.

With the new M1 Macs, bringing iOS and iPad apps to the laptop and desktop machines, some have thought this may be another sign that a MacBook Touch might be on the way. But it isn’t happening, according to Apple executive Craig Federighi, who seems kinda bemused by the continued speculation.

In an interview with the Independent, Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering says: “I gotta tell you when we released Big Sur, and these articles started coming out saying, ‘Oh my God, look, Apple is preparing for touch’. I was thinking like, ‘Whoa, why?’”

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Federighi, who has emerged as the affable star of Apple’s more recent keynote addresses, says the evolution of macOS has converged with the company’s mobile operating systems in some ways. However, he says it’s more to do with ensuring interoperability and easy switching between the family of devices.

He added: “We’re living with iPads, we’re living with phones, our own sense of the aesthetic – the sort of openness and airiness of the interface – the fact that these devices have large retina displays now. All of these things led us to the design for the Mac, that felt to us most comfortable, actually in no way related to touch.

“I’ve never felt more comfortable moving across our family of devices as a user, which I do hundreds of times a day than I do now, moving between iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and macOS Big Sur. They all just feel of a family – there’s just less cognitive load to the switching process.

“It’s just they all feel like the natural instantiation of the experience for that device. And that’s what you’re seeing not some signaling of a future change in input methods.”