Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple relating to the iPad Pro's Smart Keyboard. Buried in the patent filing is a patent figure that shows that Apple is considering a future version of the Smart Keyboard that offers a secondary display in place of the physical keyboard that could accommodate a virtual keyboard that could also provide artists with another canvas option and gamers the ability to have a virtual game controller.
Apple's patent FIG. 20 presented below illustrates a partial plan view of an alternative embodiment of an iPad Pro Smart Keyboard that offers a display assembly # 704 in place of a keyboard assembly.
The display assembly may provide for a system with dual display capabilities (not shown). Further, the display assembly can change its visual appearance to present a keyboard assembly used as an input feature by touching the display. In other words, the display could present a virtual keyboard, something like the Lenovo virtual keyboard notebook that we illustrate in our cover graphic.
While the idea now has a home via the Smart Keyboard already being on the market, it's a concept that Apple has been kicking around for years now. It first surfaced in 2014 and 2015 but was originally filed in 2012.
Apple's patent application was filed back in Q2 2016. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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