The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 50 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover Apple's patent for a series of possible future iPad form factors. Although it would seem like the designs are for an accessory, it's Apple's first patent claim that shows the iPad comes with a peripheral housing. Specifically Apple's patent claim #1 states: "A computing device, comprising a peripheral housing defining a through-aperture and an internal housing volume." The form factors support a 2-in-1 form factor, like a next-gen iPad Pro with built-in smart keyboard and so forth. In many ways it looks like an iPad snapped into an accessory. How Apple introduces it is another matter.
Peripheral Housing of an iPad
Apple's patent relates to a computing device like an iPad having a peripheral housing that defines a cavity and an internal housing volume. The computing device includes a display disposed with the cavity and moveably attached to the peripheral housing. A battery, a processor, and memory are disposed entirely within the internal housing volume. The cavity defined by the housing can be an aperture and the display can have a peripheral shape that corresponds to the shape of the aperture. In some instances, the peripheral housing has a constant cross-section.
Apple's patent FIG. 1A below shows a perspective view of a computing device; FIG. 1B shows a perspective view of multiple computing devices. two or more devices #100 can include components that allow the devices to communicate with each other, for example, via electromagnetic waves or wireless protocols such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ultra-wideband, and the like.
Apple's patent Figures below show a variety of design form factors. In patent FIG. 14b, Apple notes that the keyboard is a virtual keyboard, described as "a projected image of a keyboard. The keyboard can also detect gestures such as a swipe, pinch, finger movements and more.
In the next round of Apple patent figures we see in that the frame can be detached at specific areas to act as a stand; FIG. 16 shows how Apple Pencil is built into the periphery of the iPad.
In patent figure 17 above Apple notes that "a keyboard or other component configured to receive input from a user. In the example depicted in FIG. 17, the keyboard can be a flexible keyboard and can be retracted or rolled up entirely within the constant cross-sectional area defined by the peripheral housing 703, when not in use.
In patent FIG. 20 above we're able to see the right side bezel/frame #1003 can also include a portion #1020 other than the display #1004 that can provide visual content or information to a user.
In some embodiments, the portion #1020 can include one or more LEDs and can, in some embodiments, be an LED display. The portion #1020 can display any visual content as desired by a user, such as a battery level, a level of signal strength, weather information, and the like.
Lastly in Patent FIG. 22 Apple describes the user being able to turn the display into a full mirror and is Face ID ready.
As always, Apple doesn't limit these form factors to an iPad and points out the device could also be a mini computer, a GPS unit, media player, PDA or more. Of course the patent figures with Apple Pencil built-in or a keyboard would strongly suggest an iPad or iPhone (long shot).
Apple's granted patent 10,466,749 was originally filed in Q1 2019 with some work having been done in Q3 2018.
Paul Wang: Architect, Product Design
Dinesh Mathew: Director of product design
Denis Endisch: Product design, Architecture. Previously worked at Qualcomm
Bryan Posner: Product Designer, mainly MacBook and Displays.
Adam Garelli: Senior Product Design Engineer, Core Integration Architecture
Keith Hendren: Product Designer