Future Mac Notebooks Could Feature 'Buttonless' Trackpad Design

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple today was awarded U.S. Patent No. 8,633,916 (via AppleInsider), which describes a touchpad that utilizes force sensors and acuator feedback. The buttonless design uses an array of sensors and an actuator to mimic the function and tactile feedback of the current trackpad found in the company's MacBook product lines.

    Currently, Apple's trackpad technology is based on an integrated button design. Surface touch sensors track the movement of fingers and a hinged button allows the trackpad to click when a user presses down on it. A switch located under the trackpad is actuated when a click pivots the trackpad downward on its rear hinge. The pivoting motion of this button makes it difficult to click near the rear edge of the trackpad and requires extra space within the chassis of the notebook.

    In the newly awarded patent, which was filed in December 2009, Apple builds upon its current design by using a surface touch sensor and four corner force sensors to track finger movement and clicking input from the user. An actuator would be used to provide tactile feedback. Also similar to the current trackpad, a buttonless trackpad may have user-customizable settings that adjust the sensitivity levels for the click pressure or the tactile feedback.

    Whether Apple chooses to incorporate this new trackpad technology or not is unknown, but a move to do so would make sense considering that Apple's multi-touch trackpad debuted with the MacBook Air in 2008, and has made its way to every MacBook since then. But given the fact that it has been over four years since the patent's filing, Apple may simply have abandoned the proposed design for unknown reasons.

    Article Link: Future Mac Notebooks Could Feature 'Buttonless' Trackpad Design
  2. macrumors 6502a

    Sep 18, 2006
    Prestatyn, Wales, UK
    With built-in fingerprint reader no doubt ;-)
  3. macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2013
    I don't know if I would like this. I almost always use the click as opposed to the tap
  4. macrumors 68020


    May 19, 2011
    Leicestershire, UK
    A TrackPad without a button definitely seems like a good idea. I changed my settings to 'tap to click' practically on day 1 because it's much easier and quicker - never mind less audibly annoying. But I've also started to notice my TrackPad 'wobbling' almost and sometimes sounding like its loose when I'm tapping on it which could suggest the button is prone to loosening.
  5. macrumors regular

    Sep 29, 2011
    I miss the "click" sound on the pre-unibody / trackpad button MacBooks.
  6. macrumors G3


    Aug 24, 2009
    No thanks. I like my buttons. Never been a huge fan of touch. Trackpads are fine, but without two buttons for clicking, I'm out. And no doubt living in the past. :(
  7. macrumors 65816

    Apr 22, 2008
  8. macrumors member

    Jul 15, 2011
    I can't remember a single instance of a patent filing revealing an upcoming Apple product's feature. Could you guys point me to some recent one that turned out to be true?
  9. macrumors 65816

    Jun 10, 2002
    Planet Earth
  10. macrumors newbie

    Aug 14, 2013
    You leave that button where it bally well is, sunshines!!
  11. macrumors 6502

    Oct 20, 2011
    Yeah, when there was an actual button they had a very light resistance to the button. Now it's a lot firmer to allow people to track without pressing.

    I liked when the button was a button.
  12. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 6, 2008
    Way to actually read the article guys. Relax, your "clicky button feeling" isn't going anywhere. Says right in the first paragraph it uses an "actuator to mimic the function and tactile feedback" of the current trackpad.
  13. macrumors newbie

    Nov 7, 2013
    Same here, it works perfectly fine for me. IMO Trackpads don't need a button anymore - a one- or two-finger tap is enough.

    But i also think that we don't need force sensors and acuator feedback in the trackpad - but Apple will prove me wrong :p
  14. macrumors 6502a


    Sep 19, 2007
    Is anyone on this forum capable of reading, or just moaning?

    It explains quite clearly that when you press down it would still function and feel a button now you miserable sods.

    The benefit is that they can remove the dated hinge mechanism which makes more power for good things and you'll be able to click at both the bottom AND the top of the trackpad...basically its like now, but better.

    Its not rocket science to read and understand.
  15. macrumors 6502

    Oct 20, 2009
    It's much less stressful on your hands to gently tap the touchpad rather than click the button with your thumb. The problem is it's quite a hard habit to break.

    One other advantage of removing the buttons, is that Apple could eventually replace the touchpad with a touchscreen.
  16. macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    Sounds neat. As long as it still "feels" like a button press. I like that I have to use a bit more force to press a button than just a single tap. I always turn off "tap to click" because I generate way too many false clicks otherwise.
  17. macrumors 601


    Jun 26, 2009
    long island NY
  18. macrumors 68000


    Aug 18, 2008
    At the bend in the river

    Now build it into iPads for stylus pressure sensitivity out of the box!
  19. macrumors regular

    Sep 14, 2012
  20. macrumors 68000


    Dec 31, 2007
    Colorado & Ontario
    Haven't used the physical button ever. It's interruptive to use.
  21. macrumors member

    Dec 27, 2013
    Great news. If they could possibly make the new trackpads backwards compatible with older 2010+ MacBooks, Macbook air's and macbook pros that use the multitouch glass trackpad. It would be even better.
  22. macrumors 68030


    Sep 3, 2010
    since when have macbooks had two buttons for clicking? you must be out already, then...
  23. macrumors 6502


    Sep 27, 2011
    Riga, Latvia
    I also use "tap to click" and I really like it, but you also need the "button" press for dragging things, at least if you don't use that "three finger drag" (which I don't like at all).
  24. macrumors G3


    Aug 24, 2009
    Well button may be the wrong word for them nowadays, but it certainly clicks at both sides for me. The only MacBook I have with a one button click is my late 2009 white MacBook. Both my pro and air have it.
  25. macrumors 65816


    Dec 5, 2012
    But I like hinges... :(

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