Apple mulls accessory that turns iPhone, iPad into touchscreen laptop

Apple mulls accessory that turns iPhone, iPad into touchscreen laptop

PanARMENIAN.Net - An Apple patent application published Thursday, March 23 details a so-called "thin" portable hardware accessory that boasts the components necessary to act as a laptop surrogate for iPhones and iPads, AppleInsider reports.

As published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, Apple's application for an "Electronic accessory device" describes the company's take on an oft-attempted, but never fully realized idea.

Specifically, the IP covers a "thin" accessory, a kind of "headless" device that is incapable of functioning without a host, that contains traditional laptop hardware like a large display, physical keyboard, GPU, ports and more. Filling the role of CPU is a host device, in Apple's case an iPhone or iPad, that slots into the laptop-esque piece of kit.

Aesthetically, Apple's proposed hardware would be akin to a MacBook, with aluminum mentioned as an ideal enclosure material, AppleInsider says.

While the accessory can take many forms, the document for the most part remains limited in scope to housings that mimic laptop form factors. In some embodiments, for example, the accessory includes a port shaped to accommodate a host iPhone or iPad. Located in the base portion, this slot might also incorporate a communications interface and a means of power transfer, perhaps Lightning or a Smart Connector.

Alternatively, a host device might transfer data and commands to the accessory via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or other wireless protocol. Onboard memory modules would further extend an iOS device's capabilities. Though the document fails to delve into details, accessory memory would presumably allow an iPhone or iPad to write and read app data. In other cases, a secondary operating system or firmware might be installed to imitate a laptop environment or store laptop-ready versions of iOS apps.

Apple's accessory laptop patent application was first filed for in September 2016 and credits Brett W. Degner as its inventor.

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