Apple working on adding touchscreens to Macs in major turnabout

As part of the MacBook Pro revamp, Apple is also planning to move its displays to organic light-emitting diode, or OLED technology. The company currently uses LCDs – liquid crystal displays – on its Macs, but iPhones and Apple Watches already rely on OLED. Those screens offer improved brightness and colour and will also come to the iPad Pro in the first half of 2024.


If the touchscreen Mac moves forward, it would be a significant turnabout. The late Jobs said the idea of having computer users reach up to touch an upright screen “doesn’t work”.

“Touch surfaces don’t want to be vertical,” he said in 2010. “After an extended period of time, your arm wants to fall off.”

Jobs’ successor as chief executive officer, Tim Cook, maintained that stance in more recent years. In 2012, he said that Microsoft blending tablets and laptops was equivalent to combining a toaster with a refrigerator.

But Apple has reversed course in other areas. Jobs also said Apple wouldn’t sell a phone or tablet, and those became key businesses for the company.

And Apple’s laptop competitors, including Dell Technologies, HP, Microsoft, Lenovo Group, Samsung Electronics and Acer, have forged ahead with touchscreens. Apple is now the lone holdout among major computer makers to not offer such a product.

Apple founder Steve Jobs was not a fan of vertical touch surfaces. “After an extended period of time, your arm wants to fall off,” he said in 2010.Credit:Getty

There also have been outward signs that Apple is considering a change in course.

In 2018, the company started to combine its applications, bringing iPad apps to the Mac. The following year, it did the same for apps from outside developers. In 2020, the company started permitting iPhone apps to run on its computers.

But that transition has put a spotlight on the Mac’s lack of touch support. Using an app designed for an iPhone on the Mac can be a frustrating experience.


Even with the reversal on touchscreens, Apple isn’t actively working to combine the iPad and Mac operating systems, the people familiar with the situation said. The first touchscreen Macs are likely to use macOS.

For years, some Apple customers have been asking for touch Macs, and the company made previous attempts to satisfy those users. In 2016, it launched the Touch Bar, a virtual strip on the keyboard that controlled functions. The feature was a dud, confusing consumers and never gaining enough steam with app developers. Apple discontinued the feature in 2021 on the high-end MacBook Pro.

By this past October, Apple sounded less hostile to the idea of touchscreen Macs. When asked about the prospect at a conference, software engineering chief Craig Federighi answered, “Who’s to say?”

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