Apple MacBook discovery points to return of popular retro feature

Newly discovered Apple patents show plans for the return of an old favourite

Apple glowing MacBook logo
(Image credit: YouTube)

About seven years ago, Apple did the unthinkable and killed the glowing Apple logo. For some it meant the end of the last piece of whimsical design in Apple products: the candy-coloured iBooks were a distant memory by then, and Apple's consumer laptops were as serious-looking as the Pros.

A new patent unearthed by Patently Apple shows (opens in new tab) the return of the illuminated Apple in a new laptop, and it was filed in 2021 so it's not an old, forgotten patent that's suddenly resurfaced. According to the patent, Apple is considering a backlit, partially reflective mirror on the lid that would make the logo shine without showing the interior components.

Why the glowing Apple logo had to go

Glowing Apple logos used to be an important part of Apple branding: whenever you saw a Mac in a TV show, it was clear what you were looking at. And for some people it was no doubt an airport lounge / coffee shop status symbol too: the bigger the laptop, the more of a statement that logo was making. But sadly it had to go because for a very long time at Apple, thin was in – and the lid of Apple laptops was so thin that there was no longer any room for the illuminated logo.

Apple couldn't make the logo work in its super-thin laptops: it was enabling external light to get into the display, affecting its colour accuracy when used outside and sometimes producing visible light leakage in the centre of the display. Removing it also made the lid more rigid. So the logo went from the MacBook, and it's not in the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro either. I miss it, so I'm pleased to see it might be coming back.

This time around Apple is considering the use of super-thin film layers for its mirror, which presumably would enable it to add illumination without also adding depth to the lid.

As ever with patents, this is a case of "Apple might" rather than "Apple will". But I hope Apple does go ahead with it, because it'd be a little bit of fun in a range that's become awfully serious over the years.

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com (opens in new tab)).