A new design patent reveals a MacBook Air model with a redesigned keyboard. When will Apple ship this new and revamped device?

Apple is planning on releasing a new MacBook Air model with a keyboard redesigned to have Touch ID features. This information comes from a design patent the Cupertino tech giant filed in outside the U.S. in 2018, and is now published by the Hong Kong Patent Office.

The design patent, first spotted by Patently Apple, doesn't give any details about the device. The design patent doesn't have any abstracts, doesn't offer any summary as to why and what the patent is for, and doesn't reveal any details about the invention. It does, however, reveal one key feature.

According to design patent number 1913543.7 , the device has a Touch ID sensor on the keyboard, indicating that it's for a new MacBook Air model. Nothing is known beyond that save for a few slots on the left and right side of the device.

Will it ditch the Butterfly keyboard?

The patent didn't explicitly indicate that the MacBook Air will have a new keyboard, but an analyst known for his accurate predictions when it comes to Apple products said the MacBook Air, along with other MacBook models, will all use a different keyboard.

Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo previously said Apple is looking to release a new keyboard that will replace the problematic butterfly keyboard. He expects the new keyboard to debut on an upcoming 16-inch MacBook Pro, which will also serve as replacement for the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Kuo adds that all MacBook models scheduled to be released at any time next year will feature the new keyboard. This keyboard will adopt a scissor mechanism which is more durable than the butterfly mechanism, use glass fiber material to make it last longer than older keyboards, and will offer longer travel to help improve the typing experience.

Apple can be expected to release the 16-inch MacBook Pro sometime between this month and December this year, reports said. Other MacBooks that will feature the new keyboard –the new MacBook Air included– can be expected to arrive during the second quarter of 2020, Kuo added.

MacBook Air Screen A new patent indicates that future MacBook Air models might be thinner than ever. (Pictured: Tim Cook, CEO of Apple unveils a new MacBook Air during a launch event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on October 30, 2018 in New York City.) Photo: Getty Images/Stephanie Keith