A recent patent published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday has shown an extremely interesting concept that Apple Inc. is looking into. Dubbed simply as an “Electronic Accessory Device,” the patent depicted a concept featuring a special iPhone and iPad dock that looks unmistakably like a laptop computer, complete with a substantial display, what appears to be a full-sized keyboard, a number of ports, a dedicated GPU and more.
What is particularly interesting about the patent was the fact that the dumb terminal itself needs a host in order to function. This host would be an iPhone or an iPad, which would be docked in the terminal to serve as the CPU of the merged device. The patent, reported by 9to5Mac, described the system that would be utilized for the device.
“An electronic accessory device, comprising: an operational component that provides an output to a user; a housing carrying the operational component, the housing having a recess; and a control interface coupled to the operational component and configured to receive a control signal from an electronic host device when the electronic host device is positioned within the recess and coupled to the control interface, wherein the electronic accessory device is inoperable without the electronic host device being coupled to the control interface.”
— iClarified (@iClarified) March 23, 2017
The idea of using a smartphone with a dumb terminal to offer users a laptop-like experience using the hardware of a mobile device has been around for some time. Motorola has tried and failed with a similar concept in the past, and other manufacturers have also tried their hands at releasing a product that features the perfect balance between practicality and power. Recently, HP has released the Elite x3 Lap Dock, which features a smartphone inserted into a slot of a dumb terminal.
An Apple Insider report, however, stated that Apple’s patent takes the concept of a docked iPhone or iPad a step further. Unlike common smartphone-dumb terminal pairings, Apple’s recent patent clearly shows an iPhone being docked right below the keyboard of the dumb terminal. When in place, the iOS device would be used as a trackpad, complete with Force Touch and Haptic Feedback. This would give users of the device a very familiar laptop experience, which could very well attract numerous fans of the Cupertino-based tech giant.
A separate illustration on the recently released patent also showed an iPad being docked into a dumb terminal. Unlike the iPhone concept, however, the iPad would serve as the terminal’s display, which would give the merged device touchscreen capabilities, together with a rich plethora of ports and input devices.
— iPhone 8 (@iPhone8offical) March 22, 2017
— iDownloadBlog (@iDownloadBlog) March 23, 2017
The patent has managed to spark the interest of Apple’s fans, with many stating that the concept would most likely boost Apple’s sales and prominence in the market. The device, after all, features a premium design, with the patent even mentioning that the laptop-style dumb terminal is expected to be created from aluminum. That would, in a number of ways, make the merged device much like a MacBook running iOS.
The patent did not reveal the software that would be used in the concept, though speculations are high that the dumb terminal might include desktop-compatible versions of iOS apps. MS Office applications, for one, would definitely work seamlessly with the concept, especially with the dumb terminal’s physical input devices.
Being a patent, there is really no way to predict if Apple would indeed pursue the patent’s design in the foreseeable future. The Cupertino-based tech giant files numerous patents annually, and only a select few actually make it to the firm’s devices. Nevertheless, there is no denying that the concept of an iPhone and iPad that can transform into a desktop-grade iOS device is a very compelling idea.
[Featured Image by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images]