Apple Is Reportedly Bringing Touch Screens to Macs

MacBook Pro (16-inch, M1 Max)
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Apple is reportedly planning to add touchscreens to its MacBooks, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. It's a seismic change in the Mac world, as Apple has long held that touchscreens in clamshell laptops don't go together.

According to the report, the company has engineers "actively engaged" in working with touch, and that it is considering possibly releasing its first touchscreen Mac in 2025, in the form of a MacBook Pro refresh with an OLED screen.

At the moment, Gurman claims that Apple is planning for that MacBook Pro to keep its clamshell design with trackpad and keyboard, and that touch could come to more models down the line. Gurman's sources say the screen would work with both touch input and gestures, similar to Apple's tablets and phones.

OLED would also be a big move. Apple's 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros use Mini LED technology, but haven't moved to OLED, which can be found with touch on many Windows notebooks. Gurman claims OLED will also come to the iPad Pro in 2024. 

In theory, adding touch should be quite a bit of work, as macOS would also need to be retooled for larger touch targets. But some of the work is done: Apple already allows developers to put iPhone and iPad apps on Mac, so those should be great examples of how to develop other software (In fact, some of the apps feel awkward using a traditional touchpad, because of their touch-first design).

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs railed against touchscreens. "Touch surfaces don't want to be vertical," Jobs said in 2010. "It gives great demo but after a short period of time, you start to fatigue and after an extended period of time, your arm wants to fall off. It doesn't work. It's ergonomically terrible." Current CEO Tim Cook has also said touch didn't work with a clamshell laptop. If you want touch, Apple has maintained, get an iPad.

But as Apple designs its laptops around its own silicon, it seems the company may be reconsidering some of those previous ideas. If Gurman's sources are right and a touchscreen Mac ships, it would offer choices that many of the best ultrabooks running Windows have had for years.

Apple has previously offered a tiny touch screen — the Touch Bar, on the 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro (it still lives on in the smaller size), but that never gained a huge following.

Andrew E. Freedman

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Twitter: @FreedmanAE

  • cyrusfox
    Is apple giving customers a choice(upsell $300 feature add?) or will it be the new default. Would assume this comes with apple pencil support as well.

    Have to give apple credit, best trackpads and consistent quality across all laptops. Fascinating to see them change any of the old formula. Granted this is a rumor, but would be nice to see the madd features rather than take them away and call it innovative (headphone jack, so stunning and brave!) Without jobs the most innovative thing they have done is move away from x86, and one could argue he set them on that path.
    Reply
  • LordVile
    To implement this they would have to make MacOS a lot worse for 99.9% of use cases.

    An iPad Pro is what this is, not a mac
    Reply
  • ezst036
    Thank you for not saying that overused phrase "grain of salt".
    Reply
  • Chung Leong
    Touch-screen on a laptop as implemented currently is kinda dumb. I hope Apple come up with an innovative solution. Maybe a second screen that slide out from under the keyboard?
    Reply
  • brandonjclark
    Apple invents the best things. Touch-screen laptops? What's next?

    :whistle:
    Reply
  • ohio_buckeye
    Hm sounds like Microsoft beat them to it. Anyone seen the surface laptop studio? Pretty cool if you have the $$
    Reply
  • PlaneInTheSky
    Because Windows 8 was such a success...
    Reply
  • Sleepy_Hollowed
    This would be a terrible idea, but they've been iOS-ifying macOS for a while now, it would not surprise me in the least.

    If they can make it so there's a firmware option to disable it, across reboots and across battery drainage, then sure.
    Reply
  • hannibal
    Maybe we finally see 2in1 Apple product that actually works?
    iPad pro is nerfed down by iPad OS, and pure laptops just are not so good for touch usage, but offer pro level OS...
    Reply