Credit: Luna Display
Riding off the interest and hype surrounding foldable smartphones, Astro teamed up with its industrial designer, Federico Donelli, to take the folding form factor a step further. And the concept is admittedly pretty cool.
The device the company dreamed up sports a large display surface that can be folded to imitate the basic functionality of a laptop. Essentially, it’s the perfect mix of an iPad and a MacBook – and in this concept design, it takes the best of both worlds.
In “laptop” mode, the two halves of the folding screen could function as the actual display and a keyboard or drawing surface. As Astro notes in a blog post, the setup could allow for creative workflows “that would otherwise be limited by a mouse and keyboard, such as photo retouching or freehand illustration.”
But when the concept device is completely folded out, Astro imagines that it could function as a full-fledged touch display for a desktop setup. With a wireless keyboard and mouse, it’s a design reminiscent of Microsoft’s Surface Studio machine, just smaller.
No matter which mode the device is in, Astro says that it would be compatible with all of Apple’s input methods like touch, Apple Pencil, a keyboard and a mouse.
Of course, as we’ve seen, foldable display technology is off to a rocky start. Apple is likely a few years away from releasing a folding iPhone, and even further away from debuting something like Astro’s concept.
That’s probably why Astro included a section in its blog post explaining how to recreate the setup with a MacBook, iPad Pro, and the company’s own Luna Display solution. But while the idea seems a bit futuristic now, it’s not completely separated from reality.
Could This Concept Come to Life?
Apple is reportedly working on its own first-party solution, codenamed Sidecar, that would let users use an iPad as a secondary display for a Mac. That feature is probably coming this year.
More than that, Apple has even filed patents for devices that are fairly similar to Astro’s concept. One patent, for example, seems to describe a future MacBook with a touch display for a keyboard. That would allow for built-in illustration support, and it could mitigate Apple’s current problems with its butterfly key switches.
So yes, something like this concept isn’t coming anytime soon. But it’s also something that seems possible — especially if (or when) Apple and the larger tech industry finally works out the kinks with foldable display technology.
And compared to what’s currently available or what may be coming in the near future, a foldable iPad-MacBook hybrid seems like a great use of folding display technology.