Apple patent application details iMac touch, Macbook touch with dual-boot Mac OS X/iOS capability

Apple Online Store“While most of us were getting ready for the iPad’s arrival in January and Patently Apple hard at work preparing our major series called the Tablet Prophecies, a major iMac Touch patent was being quietly published in Europe,” Jack Purcher reports for Patently Apple.

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“And while some of the graphic figures of today’s patent did slip out in Europe, we were never able to verify whether they were legitimate or not,” Purcher reports. “Well, today we finally get to post the Mother Lode of all information concerning the iMac Touch and it’s absolutely brilliant!”

Purcher reports, “The naysayers will have to eat crow on this one, because Apple’s method of transitioning from OS X to iOS is clearly outlined for both the iMac and MacBook – and it’s a grand slam home run. Imagine having an iMac on your desktop one minute and a gigantic iPad the next. Imagine playing iGames on this dream machine – Wow! Apple takes the mystery out of how OS X could finally co-exist with iOS on a Mac.

“Apple’s patent describes the transition process this way. When the iMac’s display is oriented upright and relatively far from you – the keyboard/mouse input mode could be selected and basically you’re operating in OS X mode,” Purcher reports. “Then to switch to a touch-based input, you’ll change the orientation of the iMac’s display so as to make touching the screen easier and more natural. For example, to enter touch input, you’ll want to pull the iMac’s screen closer to you while pushing the display screen down flat as if you were going to read a book, states the patent. In this orientation you’ll be able to select a corresponding UI which should translate to using iOS. In fact, the transition is really an automatic process.”

Purcher reports “Apple’s patent figure 11 is obviously a representation of a MacBook that could transition into a tablet and in doing so takes on the transition process as described pertaining to the iMac Touch. Meaning, as the display of the MacBook is turned into tablet mode – OS X will instantly transition into iOS mode.”

There’s much more, including multiple patent application illustrations, in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Uh, we’d kind of filed this one away in the “Discounted Rumors” folder, but now we wonder if it wasn’t just a bit early: “Get ready for Newton 2.0 MacBook touch?! So says our source — the same one who tipped us to wireless iTunes Store sales direct to iPod, iPhone a week before Apple debuted it — in staccato fashion: Think MacBook screen, possibly a bit smaller, in glass with iPhone-like, but fuller-featured Multi-Touch. Gesture library. Full Mac OS X. This is why they bought P.A. Semi. Possibly with Immersion’s haptic tech. Slot-loading SuperDrive. Accelerometer. GPS. Pretty expensive to produce initially, but sold at ‘low’ price that will reduce margins. Apple wants to move these babies. And move they will. This is some sick shit. App Store-compatible, able to run Mac apps, too. By October at the latest.” – MacDailyNews, July 22, 2008 (In later rumormongering, our same source indicated that there would no SuperDrive; it was only present on prototypes and not meant for any shipping product.)

Of course the above rumor may have been about iPad, but the name “Macbook touch” and the ability to run “full Mac OS X” along with being “App Store compatible” sure matches up better to this newly published patent application.


  1. This is beginning to look like the System 9 to OS X transition. At first, primary OS was System 9, with dual boot, and the ‘Classic’ sandbox mode. Then it was OS X boot only, but still with the ‘Classic’ mode. Then the ‘Classic’ mode simply went away. The process took about five years (until Intel Macs eliminated Classic altogether), but it gave Adobe, Microsoft and all other major application developers enough time to transition to the new development tools and the new UI.

    If the previous timeline is any indication, in two years, iMacs and MacBooks(Pro)s will have iOS as the primary boot OS, and few more years down the road, and OS X will be in legacy support mode. The precise timeline will only depend on how quickly the major Mac software houses port their OS X apps over to the new multi-touch UI.

    In five years, hopefully, we’ll all look back with befuddlement on mice and wonder how on earth we got anything done using those clunky devices.

  2. If you read the patent and use your imagination, the transition animation is clearly a hybrid of Exposé “Show Desktop” and Dashboard’s closing animation.


    MW: “Times”, as in “The times, they are a’ changin” (or whatever)

  3. Apple. Let’s have it ready and selling for Christmas ’10. Macbook Touch, Ipad with front facing camera for facetime and white IPhone 4, thank you very much. I’m waiting. ( foot is a tapping.)

  4. Okay, I hate to be a party pooper, but I want to see it before I get happy about it. There are just too many pro-level apps that I’m used to in the current interface (DAWs, software synths) for me to see them working in iOS. If the emphasis is going to be on the touch screen, then what about user interfaces like keyboards, MIDI keyboards, fader units, etc?

    Maybe I’ll like being eased into it, I don’t know, but I don’t like the idea that I’m going to be “forced” into it.

  5. @cubert

    Automobiles share many of the same characteristics and we call them all cars. So just because the MacBook’s screen wiil pivot, doesn’t put it in the same class as a POS PC laptop.

    Just sayin’…

  6. @ elarue

    First off you jumped the gun without reading the patent. In upright mode the iMac touch is primarily OS X. Only when you tilt it to a given angle that you set, say 65 degrees, the OS changes automatically to iOS. So your apps wouldn’t be affected, at all. Read before you leap, my man.

  7. @elarue

    What makes you think these so called “pro level” apps will be ported to iOS?

    These are two distinctly different environments here and each will serve its own unique purposes. As developers embrace multi-touch, they will begin to see the possibilities as they apply to both their prospects and their software.

    No one is forcing you to do anything. If you buy one of these Macs, you won’t be required to use iOS, as long as your favorite software is still available on OS X.

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