In June 2015 an Apple patent revealed their first ideas regarding future iPad accessories for a stylus that became Apple Pencil. Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals yet more ideas that they have for an Apple Pencil accessory for various iPad covers including the Apple Pro's Smart Keyboard. A simple reference in the filing shows that Apple is also thinking of an Apple Pencil holder for a future iPhone. Apple revealed back in 2015 that Apple Pencil for the iPhone was an idea that their engineering team had been working on.
One of Apple's latest inventions relates to an accessory device suitable for use with an electronic device, such as a smart phone or a tablet computing device. The accessory device may include several features not only designed to provide a protective cover to the electronic device, but also to store an object that may be used with the electronic device.
For example, Apple notes that in some embodiments "the accessory device includes a retaining feature arranged to retain an object that can be used to interact with the electronic device. For example, the retaining feature can take the form of a loop feature secured with the accessory device. The loop feature can further take the form of a closed loop feature formed of a material that defines an interior volume with a cross section having an approximate size and shape of the object. In some cases, the material can be 'stretchable' such that the cross section is somewhat smaller than that of the object. In this situation, insertion of the object into the interior volume defined by the loop causes the stretchable material to grasp the object with a retaining force that depends upon the size and shape of the object and elastic properties of the stretchable material.
An advantage of this arrangement is that objects of varying sizes and shapes can be accommodated by the closed loop feature limited only the by the elasticity of the stretchable material. Accordingly, the retaining feature may be formed from one or more materials, some of which are stretchable or elastic, or include other materials that may be more rigid in nature giving the closed loop a fixed size and shape (however, the rigid nature of the material may preclude the closed loop feature from being fully stored within accessory device).
For example, the loop feature may be formed of a woven fabric designed to minimize or prevent tearing up to an elastic limit of the woven fabric. The woven fabric may be coated or laminated with a material, such as a polymeric material including polyurethane, designed to enhance an appearance of the retaining feature.
Further, the material may not only provide a particular color to the retaining feature but may also simulate or mimic a look and feel of the accessory device. In addition, the woven fabric may be a stretch woven fabric designed stretch in response to a force applied to the woven fabric (and the polymeric material) to increase a dimension of the retaining feature. Also, the retaining feature may conform to receive an object, such as a stylus.
Apple's patent FIG. 9 noted above illustrates a plan view of an embodiment of an accessory device used with an electronic device; FIG. 18 illustrates a partial isometric view of the accessory device and the retaining feature; FIG. 19 illustrates an isometric view of an alternate embodiment of a first accessory device designed to couple with a second accessory device.
Other configurations of the accessory device are shown and described. For example, in some cases, the accessory device may be designed to cover a display of the electronic device rather than an enclosure. In these embodiments, the accessory device may still include a retaining feature. However, the retaining feature may include one or more variations. For example, the retaining feature may be magnetically coupled with the accessory device. Also, the retaining feature may be stored or deployed in the accessory device. In other embodiments, the retaining feature may not only be magnetically coupled with the accessory device, but may also be designed to completely decouple, or detach, from the accessory device. The retaining feature may, at a later time, magnetically recouple with the accessory device.
Apple's patent FIG. 6 noted below illustrates an isometric view of the accessory device; FIG. 7 illustrates an isometric view of an alternate embodiment of an accessory device.
Apple's patent application was filed back in Q3 2015. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
For the record, an Apple patent in February also showed that Apple's next-gen Smart Keyboard accessory may also carry new function keys for social media and more.
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