Apple wins patent for next-generation hinged keyboard iPad accessory with multiple modes that could double as a hybrid device

Today, the United States Patent and Trademark Office has officially granted Apple a patent for a new hinged iPad keyboard accessory that offers multiple mounting modes that can provide superior flexibility to users. A particular patent number might strongly suggest that the iPad could adopt the macOS (or macOS-like) user interface as shown below.

Could Apple consider a hybrid iPad/MacBook? While Apple’s patent suggests this is possible, philosophically, Apple has always refused to consider such a hybrid OS device. Only time will tell if Apple’s attitude changes.

On the hardware front, Apple notes that in one embodiment, the new iPad accessory includes a core and a coupling mechanism. The core part may include a keyboard with a set of electromechanical switches. The coupling mechanism can be positioned along the side of the keyboard and can be configured to connect the core in a circular motion to a tablet computing device that has a touch screen.

An accessory device may have a coupling mechanism to pair the accessory device body to a Tablet PC in several different mounting positions. The coupling mechanism may specify an attachment interface to hold the tablet computing device to the core. The interface of the attachment may be determined at least in part by the body section of the coupling mechanism.

Fig Apple patented. The 1A-1F below shows a system (#100) that includes an iPad (#110) and an accessory device (#120) that can pair together in multiple mounting modes as shown below.

The accessory includes the body part No. 122 and the coupling mechanism No. 130. The pairing mechanism is able to connect the iPad in an editable form to the base part of the accessory; Figs. 1E states that the iPad can be reversed with the screen on the back side when the user folds it down over the keyboard.

3 Apple patent digits

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

4 digit Apple patent

In Apple’s FIG patent. In Figure 3A above, we see that the hinge may provide an interface and/or in 4A the hinge can magnetically support the Apple Pencil. Figs. 4A clearly presents the macOS or macOS user interface. It doesn’t seem to feature Apple’s Sidecar because it’s edge-to-edge; in fig. 8A We see that the hinge can provide a communication interface that supports the addition of other accessories such as a camera, projector, microphone or light.

For more details, see Apple patent application No. 11320869.

As a side note, it looks like Apple’s engineering teams are working on the new iPad and MacBook form factors, which will be refreshing. On February 3, Apple published a report titled “A new Apple patent reveals a highly configurable MacBook-like computing system.” One set of patent numbers from that patent is shown below.

5 apple figs from Apple's FEB 2022 patent

10.52FX - Stripe Patent Granted

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