Apple's MacBook Refresh Draws Near And Here's A Look At What Could Be Its Killer New Feature

Apple had been keen on saying we're in the post-PC era, but that was before tablet sales took a nosedive. The company's iPad line wasn't immune from the waning interest in tablets either, and surprise-surprise, that silly post-PC chatter has quieted down. So now what? Well, apparently Apple has been working on some nifty upgrades to its MacBook line, and not just underneath the hood. The biggest feature upgrade could actually be in the keyboard.

Yes, we're aware of how silly that sounds, but we're not talking about an ordinary plank or even a mechanical key set (though that would be awesome). As previously rumored, the MacBook Pro is likely to sport a secondary touchscreen display at the top of the keyboard. It will sit in place of where the Function keys used to reside and display different graphics and icons, depending on the program that's up and running.

Ah, but that's old news you say, right? Fair enough, but that isn't the only thing Apple has up its sleeve. According to an anonymous reddit user named "Foxconninsider," Apple's also planning to launch a new version of its Magic Keyboard, one that takes advantage of E-Ink technology. Here's a look at similar one made by startup Sonder, a company Apple is in the process of acquiring...

The user claims he works at Tsinghua University, which he likens to a "Chinese MIT," and provided evidence to reddit's mods that they found sufficient to believe his claim. His university hosted a Foxconn event and it was there he caught a glimpse of the new keyboard DTF (design for testing) module.

"It's a short demonstration of an Apple DTF model that we saw—I couldn't film the MacBook or Magic Keyboard test units at the event. The final design for MacBooks was similar but has every key as a screen and had a lighting panel. The executive said it's made at Foxconn's (Shenzhen) campus and the laptop modules in (Chengdu) campus which is where most of the worlds laptops and iPads are made apparently," Foxconninsider said.

Sonder Apple Keyboard

While rumors had been swirling about the MacBook's secondary display, there hasn't been any chatter up to this point about a next-generation Magic Keyboard, and certainly not one like this. Similar to the Sonder plank, what Foxconninsider describes is each key having its own E Ink display. That means individual keys and/or entire rows can change based on whatever app is loaded.

In an event, we should know more soon—Apple's expected to announce new MacBook products later this month. As for the keyboard, it's rumored to be headed for a 2018 release, though really it's anyone's guess and Apple sure could use some new innovation, sooner rather than later.