Yes, Apple is adamant that iOS and macOS will never merge and that Macs aren’t going to get touchscreens. However, that doesn’t mean that the tech giant isn’t working on touch technology for its desktop and laptop lines — you know, just in case it changes its mind.
Apple has been granted a patent (number 10,031,549) for “transitioning between modes of input.” It involves switch between a high-resolution input mode, such as a mouse-based interface, and a low-resolution input mode, such as a touch-based interface.
Per the invention, a change of orientation of a touch screen between a first orientation and a second orientation is detected. Transitioning between the two input modes and corresponding user interfaces (UI) is based on the detected change of orientation.
A change of orientation would be detected with one or more sensors, such as an accelerometer, position sensors, etc. Transitioning from one mode to another can include modifying an item displayed in the UI of the one mode into a corresponding item displayed in the UI of the other mode. The modifying can include enlarging/reducing, obscuring/unobscuring, moving, etc. For example, an item can be obscured by the visual effect of sliding it off of the screen.
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.