It could happen. iPhone and iPad have built-in on-display keyboards. Virtual keyboards. Why not do the same thing for the Mac? Instead of a physical keyboard, Apple could just add another display where the keyboard and trackpad exist now, toss in some Force Touch haptic feedback to make it feel like a real keyboard when you type, and goodbye mechanical or membrane keyboards forever.
Ben Lovejoy explains what’s going on:
A new Apple patent application, published today, describes what appears to be Apple’s end-goal with MacBooks: a screen-based keyboard with a realistic look and feel that still allows touch typing… A patent early last year, for example, described one approach: a flexible screen that could physically depress when typing, coupled to an electrostatic charge to simulate the feeling of the edge of a key.
Apple describes it:
A vibration actuator may be configured to provide haptic feedback when an input is received via a virtual keyboard presented on a touch display. Feedback for such components may enhance user experience as this may simulate physical responses users have come to expect from traditionally three-dimensional and mechanical apparatuses that have been more contemporaneously implemented using non-traditional mechanisms, such as flat surfaces that do not use moving parts
Ipso facto and alakazam. The future Mac without a physical keyboard.