Apple made a big deal out of telling us all how totally fantastic the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pros is. It’s so good, according to the Apple execs, that you’re probably wondering how and when Apple will bring its shiniest new feature to other Macs.
I can’t help you with the “when” part, but a Redditor has made a mockup of what a standalone wireless keyboard with a touch bar might look like. The answer? Gorgeous as hell.
The concept is simple: take Apple’s existing Magic Keyboard, add the Touch Bar along the top, a number pad on the side, and a USB-C port for charging. Aesthetically, it doesn’t change much from Apple’s existing Magic Keyboard, but it would add a lot of the new functionality that Apple is building into macOS.
It would also let Apple easily compete with the Surface Studio, Microsoft’s touchscreen all-in-one that it just released as a competitor to the iMac. Apple hasn’t updated the iMac to compete yet, but adding a new touch-friendly keyboard to the lineup would maybe deter some customers from fleeing to Windows.
Building a Magic Keyboard with a touch bar wouldn’t be the easiest thing in the world from a technology standpoint, though. The Touch Bar requires its own separate chip running watchOS to function, so Apple would have to build that in as well. Handling all the data transfer between computer and Touch Bar would also probably exceed the limits of Bluetooth, so the keyboard would need a Wi-Fi chip (or a physical wire) to work. That poses its own set of issues around cost and battery life.
There’s no doubting that it would be a niche product. The regular old Magic Keyboard already sells for $130, so adding an OLED touch screen and new chips would easily push that price up to $200-300. That’s a tough sell for a fancy keyboard, but then again, just look at it.