A recently-filed patent shows that Apple may be planning to develop touchscreen iMacs and MacBooks.
A European patent filed by Apple this year clearly shows that the company is working on iMacs and MacBooks which will run both Mac OSX and iOS.
The patent, titled ‘Transitioning between Modes of Input’ (published in 2010 under number 006210 A1) describes how this would be achieved, and how users could switch between OSX and iOS simply by repositioning the screen.
On the iMac, a redesigned stand for the display would allow the screen to be tilted to more extreme angles than on previous models. This most likely means that the iMac would be running OSX when the screen is positioned vertically (Fig. 1), and would switch to the touch-based iOS when tilted to a more horizontal angle (Fig. 2).
The sketch of the laptop (Fig. 11) shows a potential pivot point between the display and the keyboard, allowing the laptop to be closed, but with the “backside of the display facing down against the keyboard so that the display screen is facing up, in an orientation for touch input.”
A Chinese-language Commercial Times report claimed that Apple was planning to release these new machines sometime in 2010, with a Taiwan-based company manufacturing the touchscreens. Unfortunately, as exciting as it seems, I imagine we’ll be made to wait a little longer.