updated 11:00 am EDT, Wed May 4, 2011
Product may have missed intended ship date
Some aspects of the 2011 iMac hint that Apple is or was working on a backlit wireless keyboard, according to reports. Under Keyboard preferences in Mac OS X, for instance, new iMac owners can toggle an automatic illumination option. While standard on MacBook Pros, the option is normally missing on Macs which don't have a backlit keyboard built in.
An essential aid for any backlit keyboard is an ambient light sensor; MacGeneration points out that the upgraded iMac does in fact have an ambient sensor, located next to the webcam. A matching screen brightness slider is present in Mac OS X. Transmitting ambient light data from an iMac to a keyboard instead of building a sensor into the keyboard would allow Apple to preserve its minimalist design.
The presence of backlighting options in the iMac iteration of Mac OS X could indicate that Apple had originally intended to roll out new keyboards to go with new computers, but missed the deadline. Alternately the company may have inadvertently carried over settings from the 2011 MacBook Pro, which debuted in February. A third possibility is that the company is laying groundwork according to plan.