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Enter the touchscreen Mac multiverse: 4 visions of Apple computer systems for display screen prodders

Some Apple rumors just won’t die. A case in point: the one about touchscreen Macs, which has taken on a growling zombie-like form and shuffled back into view. The claim is Apple is working on such machines for 2025.

In 2010, Steve Jobs dismissed touchscreen Macs, citing ergonomic concerns: “After an extended period of time, your arm wants to fall off.” And he was right, hence Apple’s decision to focus on horizontal touch surfaces. But the rest of the industry didn’t care and churned out RSI-inducing, shoulder-hatting devices anyway. Moreover, Apple itself later spent years in a state of disconnect, arguing against touchscreen Macs while simultaneously selling iPads in keyboard cases that invited you to constantly touch the screen.

Apple: Touching vertical screens is bad! So Apple: buy our touchscreen tablet in this keyboard case!

I remain skeptical Apple will make a touchscreen Mac, because of money. It wants you to buy all the devices and seamlessly move content between them. (Well, when Continuity will let you.) Still, Apple has crossed the streams with M1 Macs that run iPad apps and more Mac-like iPads.

So what’s next? Gazing into my crystal ball, four distinct paths appear…

1. MacBook Pro Ultra Max Plus Touch

Apple examines its old Touch Bar Macs and comes to several conclusions. User interaction problems are solved: the touch element becomes the entire screen, rather than a tiny strip that forces you to look at the keyboard (contradicting what people are trained to do).

Apple also manages to spin having invented ‘new’ tech by using sensors to ‘magically’ optimize the interface when a sausage-like digit approaches the screen. Alas, said tech is infused into precisely one high-end Mac that starts at ‘just’ $5999. Developers sigh infinite sighs and again return to working on features all Mac users can benefit from.

2. The MacPad

Apple bows to the inevitable and performs an inelegant U-turn that the press will gripe about forever. The iPad and Mac are mashed together with a fork while the iPhone looks on, alarmed and resisting any attempt for it to also become part of Apple’s newfound devices soup.

The good news: touchscreen apps now make sense on the Mac, because this Mac is also an iPad. And iPad users get a windowing system that works, because this iPad is also a Mac. Ah, no. Because Apple forces Stage Manager on everyone, and so windowing becomes a confusing mess for everyone.

Today’s iPads: already approx. 47% of a Mac.

3. The Steve Jobs Special

Steve Jobs lives on in Apple’s very DNA. To this day, his insights and beliefs power much of Apple’s thinking. Which is why if Apple was a real boy, it would sit in front of a games console, baffled, wondering why people choose playing games over typography and listening to The Beatles.

Anyway, in tribute to its visionary leader, Apple creates new Macs with sensors similar to the Ultra Max Plus Touch. Only all they do is pop up an animated GIF of Steve Jobs sternly saying NO! every time your finger approaches the screen. The rest of the industry scoffs—and then immediately sets to work on ripping off the feature.

4. The Black Mirror

The curveball. There’s no touchscreen Mac in 2025. Instead, Apple AR glasses make you think your Mac has a touchscreen by projecting a visionary Apple OS directly on to your retinas. In fact, they turn any surface into a touchscreen ‘Mac’: on an iPad; to iMac; a 2008 MacBook Air; a sheet of A4 with an apple drawn on it in pen.

Eager to embrace a tech marvel, the world fails to heed Charlie Brooker’s warnings and embraces the 2026 follow-up Apple Vision, which comes in the form of a brain implant. But with Apple’s direction of travel in services, a monthly subscription is required for literal vision. Still, no-one argues for a touchscreen Mac anymore – and those RSI concerns are a thing of the past.

Related: The iPhone 14 I want is the one that makes all my other devices obsolete

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