Touchscreen iMac hint along the lines of Microsoft Surface Studio (shown)

Although Apple has long rejected the concept of a touchscreen iMac or MacBook, and for good reason, there was one product which made us wonder whether there might be a role for such a device: the Microsoft Surface Studio (above).

Take away the Microsoft logo and Windows UI, and you could easily imagine it was designed by Apple. It’s today being suggested that a new patent application might hint at the possibility of making a Mac version …

The Microsoft Surface Studio

The Microsoft Surface Studio was announced way back in 2016, and my colleague Greg Barbosa and myself each found ourselves struck by the device. Here’s what Greg had to say:

The announcement of the Surface Studio showed us something that Apple had hand-waved as not being worth their time: treating a desktop system’s display as a touchscreen. All the negatives I could think of were answered during Microsoft’s event. The Surface Studio uses wrist-detection within its display allowing artists to bend the display on the Zero Gravity hinge down into a more comfortable angle and lay on top of it in the same way they would at a drawing desk.

The Surface Pen then allows any artist to draw directly on the display like the previous Surface devices could. The argument Jobs showed on stage with the MacBook’s display being angled strangely as a limiting factor was solved with the Surface Book, and a similar idea is now see in a large screen desktop solution.

And my view:

Yes, it’s a niche product. Yes, it’s very expensive. No, it’s not for most people. But there’s no arguing with two things.

First, it’s a thing of beauty. It has been really well thought-through, and is as Apple-like in its styling and build quality as any device I’ve ever seen.

Second, for its target market – essentially anyone who spends much more time drawing than typing – it is a really great solution. For them, it’s not a gimmick, it’s an effective tool.

If that thing had an Apple logo on the back and ran macOS, it would set the graphics world alight.

Apple patent application

Patently Apple spotted that Apple has now updated a patent application first filed in November of last year. The site describes it as “a practical iMac design with a tilting touchscreen for artists & more.”

Now, to be clear, Apple doesn’t describe it as anything of the kind. The application is to patent a pivoting stand for a desktop computer, and the specific reasoning Apple gives for the design is it would make an iMac easier to transport.

Over time, this has produced sleeker and thinner devices with large displays, but the pursuit of thinness, coupled with large displays, has led to products that can be overly difficult to move and inefficient to package and transport. Additionally, stands and supports for the computing devices often inefficiently take up weight and space as compared to the highly optimized remainder of the computing device with which they are used. Accordingly, there is a constant need for improvements to computing device stands, supports, and related components.

But while this all seems rather pedestrian, the design does look remarkably familiar.

Apple patent may (slightly) hint at touchscreen iMac similar to Microsoft Surface Studio

Could Apple be disguising plans for a touchscreen iMac along the lines of a Surface Studio, as Patently Apple implies? Or is it all as uninteresting as the patent wording claims? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Images: Microsoft

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