In a report that could have Steve Jobs rolling over in his grave, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman on Wednesday wrote that Apple is working on a MacBook Pro with a touchscreen, a method of input that the company had long believed to be far from ideal.
According to unnamed sources, the first Mac to have a touchscreen could appear in 2025 as part of a larger MacBook Pro update. The laptop would still have a keyboard and trackpad, but the touchscreen “would support touch input and gestures–just like an iPhone or iPad.” Also, the touchscreens would use OLED technology, an upgrade from the current LCD displays.
An earlier report from Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that Apple’s first MacBooks with OLED displays could arrive as early as next year.
Gurman’s report states that macOS is “likely” to be used on these first touchscreen Macs and that the company is not working on combining macOS and iPadOS. Gurman, however, doesn’t say if macOS would be updated with UI elements that are more touch-friendly. Gurman does say that the current ability to use iPhone apps on a Mac is “a frustrating experience” because of the lack of touch input, which makes it sounds as if perhaps the future touchscreen implementation is meant to be used with iPhone and iPad apps running on the Mac.
With the M1 system on a chip and macOS Big Sur, Apple introduced the ability to run iOS/iPadOS apps on the Mac, though the experience is more of a convenience than an everyday feature. Most people still use Mac apps for work, which are made to work with a cursor and use familiar elements that are mouse- and trackpad-friendly.
PC makers have had touchscreen laptops for years and releasing a touchscreen MacBook would be a significant philosophical change for the company. The late Steve Jobs was vocal about his dislike of touchscreens, and he once said that “your arm wants to fall off” after using one. Tim Cook carried that torch in the early days of his CEO tenure, saying during a 2012 earnings call, “You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those aren’t going to be pleasing to the user,” when asked if Apple had plans for a touchscreen laptop.
Times change, however, and Gurman points out that Apple’s Craig Federighi said, “Who’s to say?” when asked about a touchscreen Mac during a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern. (Though it should be pointed out that Federighi makes the response a schtick to the rapid-fire questions Stern makes in that part of the interview.)