MacBooks could get retractable keyboards, according to Apple patent MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)

The quality and design of Apple's MacBook keyboards has been a hot topic of discussion in recent years, with the Cupertino company's dreaded Butterfly switch implementation proving to be the most contentious.

While Apple has taken steps to address its users' concerns, officially ditching the Butterfly switches with last year's MacBook Pro 16-inch, it appears the tech giant isn't quite done with its keyboard tinkering. 

According to documents obtained by Patently Apple, the MacBook-maker has submitted a patent application for a new type of retractable keyboard that lowers into the base of the laptop's body when closed.

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The design places keycaps on a stabilizer, which is coupled to a base layer. The latter raises or lowers when the MacBook is open or closed, respectively, and that should theoretically allow Apple to produce even thinner MacBooks in the future.

Below is an illustration from the patent which demonstrates how the retractable keyboard implementation would work in both open and closed positions.

MacBook retractable keyboard patent

(Image credit: Patently Apple)

While the US Patent Office only revealed the patent publicly today, Apple's application was submitted back in the third quarter of 2019. 

Whether the company plans to bring its retractable keyboard idea to market is anyone's guess, although it would surely be interesting to see how much thinner Apple's MacBook lineup can get.

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