Lenoardo Da Vinci combined art and science and aesthetics and engineering, that kind of unity is needed once again. -Ben Shneirderman
The ongoing discussion about the mechanations within the R&D labs of Cupertino have gone back and forth behind the "necessity" of Apple building an ARM based notebook has lead me back to the patent published in April of 2016. This is all nothing more than a thought exercise in who this product is aimed for and a potential transformation and transition from intel to ARM though it's been written about in exhaustive detail I'm detailing a hypothetical device that likely exists in the R&D labs and the marketing or naming perspective of the device that may never come to fruition.
I. A Series or Something New
An ARM based notebook with the power surpassing the iPad Pro line would likely come with a new series of chip that the iPhone and iPad simply couldn't or can't handle...yet. It's also a chip that could theorhetically surpass what has been placed in the MacBook, while offering battery life that has yet to be established in the MacBook platforms. But a chip that has everything developed to date, from A series to W (wireless), and potentially a mixture of T intorduced in the MacBook Pro with Touchbar and S primarily seen in the Apple Watch. It's very likely and possible these technologies will combine for something entirely different as these chips in some cases are a subset of one another, with what will likely be the first inhouse developed GPU.
It's likely that this series chip will handle performance mechanisms equitable to the MacBook and potentially get close to the MacBook Pro, allowing users to handle Final Cut X, a new suite of Adobe products, and other task intensive apps that usually require X86 architecture to handle multiple subsets and internal systems to pump out specified tasks. All of the lessons learned from the first iPhone to the iPhone 7, from the first iPad to the iPad Pro, from the Apple Watch Series 0 to Series 2, will be adapted, transformed, and introduced in the device.
Whatever this new chip is named whether a new A or AX series or something entirely different it will undoubtedly cause skeptics and supporters of the company to be taken aback (claims that would effectively be debated for quite some time). But it would be imporant to remember this is version 1.0 of this chip and this hypothetical device. There will be lessons learned, methodologies changed, and improvements made vastly over the course of a few months to a year to reach version 2.0 and beyond.
Many complaints that have come from the MacBook and MacBook Pro is the travel and style of the keyboards and their lack of travel, I'm in favor of the current iteration of the keyboard but many have suggested having haptic feedback from the keys. There are two directions the company would take with this version 1.0 device, one is the futuristic version many are hoping for, reminiscant of the patent itself, and something similar to that of the device in Black Mirror Season 2 Episode 1 titled "Be Right Back". A touch based keyboard with haptic feedback that changes based on user input and application, basically taking the touchbar to the entirety of the keyboard.
The other direction is simply taking the MacBook platform and shoving an ARM based chip inside the platform adding in a touch bar and same keyboard only with the addition of haptic feedback, this could be the safest route to go considering many tech users have become absurdly reactionary while regularly contradicting themselves from screams of "we want something new and innovative!" to "wait slow down at least keep some legacy ports on there to ease us in your transition!". The privaledged are never pleased...but back to the topic at hand.
If Apple Industrial Design goes by the patent it's not inconceivable to imagine that a touchscreen surface would have haptic feedback when the keyboard function is in use. 3D touch has been an ever growing lesson with the iPhone, the new Touch ID sensor in the iPhone 7, and the trackpads on the MacBooks. It's possible we may see 3D touch in the new iPads increasing the interaction methods and use cases among differing apps. And reading into the patent filing a touch based surface that provides methods not just for a keyboard but other apps that would utilize varying input methods all customized by the user with haptic feedback.
But again, the safe route of taking the 12" MacBook housing and updating a few features could be a very likely scenario for the company after the backlash of the MacBook Pro, and they've made up their minds on the best direction to make with the products overall. But this may or may not necessarily have a touch screen, moreso a touch based keypad, no inputs rather something based on a wireless charging apparatus and wireless data transfer methods.
III. iBook & iOS
An iOS device with double the battery and RAM capacity of an iPad Pro with retina screen(s), would be amazing to see in real world use, the very reason for this piece is to explore the patent as an iOS device and not macOS. That's the reasoning behind calling this an iBook, a new kind of iOS device for users who may want an iPad with an OLED e-ink keyboard. Whether it may canabolize iPad or MacBook sales is irrelevant to Apple, as they have consistently stated over and over it's better that they cannabalize themselves rather than someone else taking those sales away from their ecosystem.
How this would be marketed is anyone's guess, an iOS device for some specified "Pro" users, those who prefer the iOS ecosystem over that of macOS, the mount of potential use cases based on how iOS has evolved within the next two iterations will tell this story. But iOS would have to make some shifts to new UI and UX languages for users, something not as drastic but a substantive shift, there's some curiosity whether this will come in iOS 11 or iOS 12.
The introduction of the device could, would, or should, very likely occur at WWDC, it would make sense as this would be a significant product to introduce at a developer focused event. One in which could have been ready to introduce at the Mac event in October of 2016 and was later scrubbed for varying reasons if it in fact had any existance in the first place. Because this is based on a fixed ARM series processor it's unlikely you'll get the option of higher clocked variants or an option to increase RAM, rather similar to all iOS devices a selection of color schemes and storage tiers would be available.
IV. The Answer to A Problematic Reliance on Intel
There has to be discussions within the executive level of Apple from engineering to ID and marketing that the reliance on Intel has become a roadblock in innovating in the Mac hardware line and making more substantial advancements in tech. Though the company is an extremely patient one, at some point patience in Intel has to have run short. From delayed chip availability to unstable and inconsistent time tables of new chips being tested in the labs in cupertino, Intel has effectively become more of a nuesance than a reliable partner.
If the iBook becomes a reality one would wonder if this is a signal that the company has made so many advancements in engineering ARM chips that the move is an inevitable one. This would be difficult to say, the transition would be a difficult one, but that's expected, such work in engineering isn't meant to be easy, and the development of USB-C ports to work with ARM chipsets would likely be a hurdle the engineering teams are working to overcome if they haven't done so already.
What will become of this device and its reality is up in the air, usually I'm not one to dive into patents filed by any company though the probabilities surrounding the aspect of Apple making an ARM based laptop are quite substantial.