There is a possibility, according to this Wall Street Journal article, that Apple may launch a MacBook with an e-ink dynamic keyboard somewhere in 2018. It may change the entire concept of physical keyboards. Just like the on-screen keyboard on your mobile phone or tablet, the MacBook e-ink dynamic keyboard will show different keys according to the different software apps you might be using at that time, including a QWERTY keyboard, a blank slate or a surface riddled with emojis and other icons. Long gone would be the days when you heard the constant clicking of physical keyboards. If people want to hear that clicking sound, they may have to install apps that specifically generate such sounds when the e-ink keyboard would be used.
Digitally generated keyboard keys is a concept that Apple has been gradually introducing into its keyboards. Take for instance the Apple Magic OLED keyboard, instead of physical keys, the row of keys that usually contains the function keys has a plain strip and the function keys are digitally shown on it. It means these keys can be dynamically altered to show something else or even icons that you see on your computer or laptop screen. Your entire on-screen taskbar can be made visible on such a keyboard. Here is a TechCrunch video describing how the Apple Magic OLED keyboard appears:
So, coming back to the upcoming MacBook e-ink dynamic keyboard. According to the Wall Street Journal report, the Apple CEO Tim Cook has had some meetings with its Chinese manufacturers in order to create these e-ink dynamic keyboards. Just like in any other normal laptop, the new e-ink dynamic keyboard should make the bottom half of the MacBook. Instead of having physical keys or even keys with printed labels, each key on the keyboard will be generated on the e-ink surface so that different key sets can be displayed for different needs. You will also be able to use different keyboards for different languages and for typing symbols that normally require complicated key combinations. After the first MacBook with e-ink dynamic keyboard, it may become a standard feature in all Apple laptops.
But why e-ink keyboard rather than usual screen-based keyboard?