Gadgets for humans

The single glass sheet iMac patent gives me hope Apple will focus on design again

Now that Ive has gone, the company has a chance to make a radical change

header image single glass sheet imac

Apple has a reputation for exciting design — but I’m not sure how warranted that really is these days. Let me put it this way: When was the last time the company put out a product that looked like nothing else out there?

You know, something as iconic and fresh as the iPod, as futuristic as the iMac G3, or as plain gorgeous as the iPhone 4? No, aside from a few vaguely interesting products (like the new cheese-grater Mac Pro) the majority of Apple’s new products have taken quite a safe, expected approach to design.

But, a new patent the company has filed for a single glass sheet iMac could be the shot of adrenaline design-hungry Apple fans need. Reported on by Apple Insider, the company filed a patent for an iMac design that’s constructed from a lone piece of curved glass.

[Read: Apple’s strong iPhone 11 sales last quarter bode well for the SE 2]

Take a little look at it here:

Apple single glass sheet iMac blueprint
Here is the single glass sheet iMac in, well, some of its potential glory.

It’s pretty clear where the screen is in this blueprint for the single glass sheet iMac (you know, the bit that looks like a screen), but the interesting part is in the curved section at the base of the machine.

Due to the shape of the single glass sheet iMac, it wouldn’t be able to support its own weight. This would mean the introduction of a wedge at the device’s rear. It’d look a little something like this:

single glass sheet imac rear wedge
This would stop the single glass sheet iMac from toppling over and smashing into a thousand, painful, expensive pieces.

This wedge would allow the single glass sheet iMac to be titled and moved, so it’s more comfortable for the user. One assumes it’s also where some of the computer’s components would be housed.

Still, the most exciting part of the patent application (for me at least) are designs that incorporate the single glass sheet iMac with a laptop. Have a little gander at this:

single glass sheet iMac macbook
Just thinking about this is getting me excited.

The rough idea here is that you slide a MacBook through a gap on the single glass sheet iMac, effectively turning the system into a docking station. This is a brilliant idea.

Imagine having something like this on your desk. You can work with your laptop when you’re out and about, but when you come into the office, you slide your laptop into the machine, not only giving you a bigger screen to work with, but potentially a performance boost too.

It’d be the sort of design that could blur the line between desktop and laptop computers, and potentially impact the entire industry. Yes, there are examples of this docking technology on the market, but this specific approach would be unlike anything out there.

Plus, the company would most likely do it better than anyone else. You know, like old school Apple.

But will we ever see the single glass sheet iMac?

Almost definitely not.

Apple files a whole load of patents — the majority of which never see the light of day. You know, like this one for a folding iPhone, or this one for a smart ring. But while we might never see the single glass sheet iMac in stores, my hope is that this shows the where the company‘s head is at.

With Jonny Ive, the company‘s previous Chief Design Officer and the man behind some of its most iconic product designs, having departed last Summer, there’s a huge opportunity for Apple to push into a new direction. Now that the old guard has changed, Apple has a chance to do something fresh, to try and build on its design legacy, and create something we haven’t seen before.

And the single glass sheet iMac shows the company has people capable of doing that.

Let’s just hope Apple trusts them, and it can return to the days of being a design-focused powerhouse. Just don’t hold your breath.

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Published January 27, 2020 — 10:22 UTC