In August last year Microsoft Research showed of a Display Cover concept for their Surface, which would add a thin film e-ink display that extends the available screen real estate of the slate device by up to 8%. The display would be bistable due to electrophoretic ink, reducing the secondary screen’s impact on battery life.
The screen would be touch sensitive and would change function based on the app running.
Now it seems Apple is getting ready to ship a product implementing the same ideas, according to reliable Apple rumour monger Mark Gurman.
The OLED screen above the keyboard on the next MacBook Pro is contextual: the buttons will change based on the primary app you are using.
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) June 6, 2016
It is a pity that it seems Apple will make it to market faster than Microsoft but I think in both cases it will be somewhat of a gimmick, given that most applications would not support the feature and most devices, be they Surfaces or MacBooks, will not come with the screen either, making the feature superfluous for most application developers.
See a video demoing Microsoft Research’s full idea below: