Mac Inside a Keyboard: News and Expected Price, Release Date, Specs; and More Rumors

A Mac in a keyboard, but it's just a patent...for now

A keyboard with macOS hiding inside? That's what a recently discovered patent from Apple explains. The patent implies Apple is looking to merge a Mac mini with Magic Keyboard. The keyboard houses all the computer's components which you then plug into a display to make a full computer system.

Mac in keyboard patent drawing


When Will the Mac in a Keyboard Be Released?

The only information we have thus far pointing to this becoming something real is a patent discovered by Patently Apple about a full Mac in a keyboard. Titled Computer in an Input Device, it was filed in late 2020 and then published by the US Patent & Trademark Office in early 2022.

Lifewire's Release Date Estimate

We're very early in the rumor stages. It's highly unlikely we'll see this device until 2023 at the earliest, but it will likely be during an Apple event at an even later date that we'll know more.

Mac In a Keyboard Price Rumors

It's too early to make any real price predictions. While it could be as cheap as the Raspberry Pi 400 that mimics this same concept, it will more likely be closer to the price of a traditional desktop like the Mac mini.

Super portable devices are more convenient, but often also less powerful, than their larger counterparts. Storage and power will definitely play a role in how Apple prices it, and since we're looking at something as small as a keyboard, it's unclear how much performance could really be packed inside.

And while it's not an all-in-one computer because there isn't a display, the keyboard, and potentially mouse, are included with the rest of the computer. This means those items will be priced into the whole unit as well.

Pre-Order Information

Apple typically opens pre-orders shortly after a device is announced. We'll drop the link here for pre-ordering this if and when it arrives.

Features, Specs & Hardware

Where this device could succeed is if you wanted more than one workspace, say at home and work or in two rooms in your house, but you don't want to full computers. Supply both spaces with a monitor, and you can then easily just move the keyboard-computer combo wherever you need without the hassle of reconnecting all the other parts that normally make up a computer.

A Mac mini is already quite small, but it's not quite as portable as a keyboard, and doesn't ship with a keyboard or a mouse. This invention is different because it has to include the keyboard—it's the case, after all. According to Apple, touch input could be built-in to provide a trackpad utility, and other common peripheral devices can be attached to it as well, like a microphone.

Apple provides an overview of how it might work:

A computing device can include an enclosure that defines an internal volume and an external surface...The singular input/output port can be configured to receive data and power and configured to output data from the processing unit. The computing device can include an air-moving apparatus to move air along an airflow pathway. The enclosure can include a thermally conductive base.

The patent admits the unit can generate heat and in turn impact performance. This is a no-brainer to anyone who has ever used a computer. But it's especially important to address here because the compact design means you're shoving every essential piece of hardware into the same area as a keyboard, which will undoubtedly cause overheating if not dealt with properly.

The solution for heat regulation is to spread it out over a larger surface area. Naturally, Apple says vents can be used to pull in cooler ambient air from outside the device and discharge the warmer air.

In this manner, the vents can facilitate a natural or passive air circulation system to regulate heat within the enclosure of the computing device. The vents can consist of apertures or through-holes formed or otherwise defined by the enclosure. For example, the vents can include elongated parallel slots, channels, perforations, other apertures, or a combination thereof.

The patent also mentions the device could be foldable and even include a cellular antenna.

What about storage capacity? Or peripheral ports? We don't know those details just yet, how big or heavy the whole apparatus will be, or how powerful Apple can make this system. We'll update this page as we know more and the specs roll in.

The Latest News About the Mac Inside a Keyboard

You can get more computer news from Lifewire. Here are related stories and current rumors and news about this new device:

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