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Future MacBooks could feature gaming laptop-style colourful backlighting

A new patent shows that Apple might bring vividly coloured backlights to its future keyboards. This could mean that we may soon wave goodbye to the austere look that Macs have sported for so long.

Although this isn’t technically ground-breaking, Apple’s patent claims that the new light system differs to other illuminated keyboard designs as the lights will be “individually controllable”. Each button could therefore have a variable tone or colour, which Apple says is key for feedback and should help “improve the user experience”.

Related: Best gaming keyboards

You might now be picturing a brightly-coloured gaming keyboard, with rainbow lights rippling across the keys in response to your button bashing. But this new design will likely offer something a bit more subtle. This is Apple we’re talking about, after all.

One of the key features mentioned in the patent is a “light sensor or camera to detect ambient lighting and adjust internal illumination”. This means that the new keyboard could have a reactive lighting system, which adjusts itself to reflect your environment.

So, while it’s fun to imagine a new Mac keyboard that has a dedicated disco-mode, it’s likely that the design will focus on matching warm-hues with warm key colours. Although hopefully there will be some elements that can be programmed individually.

There’s a good chance that the innovative lighting system wouldn’t be limited to Apple’s Magic Keyboard, as the patent lists tablets, mobiles and digital assistants as likely beneficiaries of the new design.

That’s, of course, if Apple actually acts on the patent. Technology companies regularly file patents for features that they have no intention of actually bringing into the real world.

Related: Best MacBook

At present, there aren’t any other details on what shape the new keyboard might take, though it’s unlikely we’ll ever see a return of the butterfly keyboard. After a long series of complaints from users, Apple backtracked on the design and has since released products which feature new scissor-switch keys, which are a lot like the scissor-style keys of old.

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