#Apple #patents #iPad #accessory #turns #Mac
Looking to the future: Apple has patented a new keyboard style for the iPad that works together with macOS-style software to turn it into a laptop. It has a more natural look than the kickstand used by most existing iPad keyboards, as well as much deeper software integration.
If that sounds familiar, you’re probably thinking of Microsoft Surface devices. Microsoft markets the Surface Pro as a more capable version of the iPad Pro in its goofy-but-fun commercials. iPad advocates say Apple’s device is better at what it does, even if it’s a little less versatile.
A new iPad based on this patent would reverse this paradigm. It would have a true clamshell form factor. Apple’s existing Magic Keyboard is more of a folding case and keyboard hybrid than a simple keyboard accessory.
This keyboard accessory is designed to attach to the base of the iPad, just like the Surface Pro keyboard. It has “electromechanical” keys and the large trackpad that MacBooks are famous for. It could also, according to Apple’s patent, have a slot for a stylus or a small touch screen similar to a Touch Bar.
As it stands, you can already get iPad keyboards with these features without the Touch Bar from other manufacturers like Logitech. Combined with iPad OS, the iPad is already a capable replacement for a laptop. This patent seems more like Apple’s spin on an existing idea than a redesign of the iPad, but it could also be a springboard for future updates.
Apple’s patent emphasizes the MacOS-like interface associated with the keyboard, although this software is probably beyond the scope of this patent. Apple hasn’t committed to going in that direction, but it has been moving toward a more traditional desktop since iPadOS, which launched two years ago and will soon enter its fourth iteration.
Meanwhile, other Apple patents show the iPad moving in bolder directions. A versatile connection port designed for a keyboard accessory could also be used for other third-party or proprietary accessories, such as cameras or microphones, or even, as one patent describes, a secondary display.
It’s great to see Apple experimenting with new ideas for the iPad, but it wouldn’t be the first time Apple has patented something cool and exciting to get stuck on the drawing board. So this product might not exist, but it would be great if it did.
Header credit: Maury Page
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