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In 2022, Apple delivered three Distinct Patents covering a Modular styled MacBook and/or Major Next-Gen iPad Accessories

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In 2022, Apple filed for three distinct patents that represent a single iPad accessory device project. Clearly Apple's engineers are working on variants of the device that Apple executives could then choose from for a final product. On February 03, Patently Apple posted two of the three inventions.

In the first invention, Apple presented a modularized system wherein users could choose to have a traditional keyboard or a secondary display for artists to use with an Apple Pencil or to use for other interfaces for a game controller or used as a DJ device or a mini piano keyboard and so forth.   

2x apple modular ipad macbook-like device

For more on this invention, review our report titled "A new Apple Patent Reveals an Exciting Highly Configurable Modularized MacBook-Like Computing System." In image #106 above we see a touch surface display component that could double as an iPad for leisurely reading. There are many graphics in that report that illustrates many various configurations that Apple is imagining.

In Apple's second invention, we see how this version allows the display to be positioned  in two way, face in and face out. When face out and closed, the display would act as an iPad with the keyboard keys resting against the back of the display so that a flat back would sit on the user and not the keyboard as most PC 2-in-1 notebooks do.  

3 x x secondary patent for iPad Accessory

As shown in FIG. 7C below, the magnetic element #780b may move between a first position #781a and a second position #781b.

4 XX apple iPad accessory patent figures

In Apple's patent FIG. 3A above we see that the hinge may provide an interface and/or in 4A the hinge could magnetically support an Apple Pencil; In FIGS. 8A & 8B we see that the hinge could provide a connection interface that would support adding other accessories such as a camera, projector, a microphone or light. For more on this invention, review our report titled "Apple Files for a Patent covering a Hinged Keyboard Accessory for iPad that provides a Notebook Feel with Superior Flexibility."

Yesterday the US Patent & Trademark Office published their third invention on this theme of a next-gen iPad accessory. In this version, Apple notes that the accessory could also provide a soft-to-touch virtual keyboard that's not hard on a user's fingers. FIG. 2 below shows a perspective view of a computing device and an input device;

More specifically, in FIG. 2, the computing device #202 is arranged with the touch screen #210 where the user can view the touch screen while also being able to view and interact with the keyboard #212 in a normal laptop-computer-like orientation. In embodiments where the input device #204 is integrated with a stand or support for the computing device, the input device can be arranged to be configurable in the relative position shown in FIG. 2 while the computing device is also arranged in the relative position shown in FIG. 2.

5 xx apple patent figs new iPad accessory

Apple's patent FIG. 3 above shows an exploded side view of the assembly of FIG. 2; FIG. 6 below illustrates an exploded perspective view of an embodiment of a computing device and an input device.

(Click on image to Enlarge) 6 xx iPad accessory patent

In Apple's third version of this invention they've added 20 new technical points to better protect this patent. Below are 12 of the key new claims:

  • A computing device and electronic accessory assembly, comprising: an electronic accessory having an attachment device, the attachment device including a magnet; a computing device comprising: a housing having a display screen; a coupling section removably attachable to the electronic accessory via the magnet of the attachment device; and a sensor configured to detect the presence of the electronic accessory and to cause the computing device to execute software instructions stored in a memory device in response to detecting the electronic accessory.
  • … wherein the coupling section comprises magnetically attractable elements.
  • … wherein the software instructions include instructions to change a user interface displayed by the display screen.
  • … wherein the software instructions change a visual configuration of the display screen.
  • … wherein an electrical connection is established between the computing device and the electronic accessory in response to attaching the electronic accessory to the computing device.
  • … wherein the attachment device is configured to orient the electronic accessory relative to the computing device.
  • … wherein the electronic accessory comprises a case for the computing device or a cover for the computing device.
  • … wherein the electronic accessory is configured to removably attach to a rear surface of the computing device.
  • An electronic device, comprising: a housing comprising an electronic display; an attachment interface configured to removably couple the electronic device to an accessory; a sensor configured to detect the presence of the accessory; a processor; and a memory device including executable instructions encoded thereon, wherein the instructions, when executed by the processor, cause the processor to modify a user interface of the electronic display in response to detecting the accessory.
  • An electronic device and accessory assembly, comprising: an electronic accessory comprising a magnetic attachment device; an electronic device comprising: a housing; a display positioned in the housing; and a coupling section removably attachable with the magnetic attachment device; wherein the coupling section and attachment device are configured to orient and maintain alignment between the accessory and the electronic device.
  • The assembly of claim 18, wherein a user interface provided by the display of the electronic device is configured to be modified in response to the sensor detecting the electronic accessory.
  • The assembly of claim 19, wherein a software setting of the electronic device is configured to be modified based on a location of the electronic accessory on the electronic device.

For more details, review Apple's patent application number US 20220413633 A1.

It would great to see Apple try to shake things up in the iPad space over the next year or so, and a combination of some of the features patented in 2022 would be exciting to see unfold.

Apple Inventors

  • Terry Van Ausdall: Hardware Engineer, iPad Group
  • Adam Garelli: Senior Product Design Engineer, Core Integration Architecture
  • Senem Ezgi Emgin: HW+SW Prototyping Engineer
  • Art Clarke: Director, ML Developer Experience Product Management and AIML Privacy Champion. Clarke notes: "We build the AI/ML platform that Apple developers use to ship amazing user experiences with industry leading privacy commitments to their users.


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