Apple patent reveals iPad Smart Cover with built-in keyboard, AMOLED display

Apple patent reveals iPad Smart Cover with built-in keyboard, AMOLED display

Summary: If the cover reaches the market, Apple could once again one-up Microsoft and its Surface Touch Cover.

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TOPICS: Apple, iPad, Tablets
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While everyone has ooohed and aaahed over the Touch Cover for Microsoft's forthcoming Surface tablet because it includes a built-in physical keyboard, Apple may already be preparing something that goes even further in adding features to what was once viewd as nothing more than a humble case.

It turns out that nearly a year ago -- August 11, 2011, to be exact -- Apple filed a patent for an iPad Smart Cover that not only includes a fabric keyboard, but also a built-in AMOLED display that the company claims could function "as an extended desktop." Among other applications, the patent says the display could be used for things like showing status messages or video player controls when the cover is bent back.

But Apple lays out a number of options for this new smart cover (this being the age of patent wars, after all). For instance, the patent illustrates a scenario where the cover includes "a touch screen integrated across a majority of a surface of the flap portion" [emphasis mine] or one where it has "an integrated auxiliary display and ambient power collectors" -- a.k.a, solar panels. There's also talk of it including a built-in battery and even "a small amount of storage space."

Not leaving any stone unturned, the application also claims the cover could connect to the iPad either through a wired port -- DisplayPort, mini DisplayPort, DVI, and Thunderbolt are listed as options -- or wirelessly through 802.11n Wi-Fi.

Of course, the patent filing doesn't mean Apple is close to producing such a Smart Cover -- or even planning to produce one at all. However, its revealing -- and the nasty patent fight the company is in with Samsung -- suggest that there could be a future legal tussle between Apple and Microsoft over the concept of a more functional tablet cover. Can Apple win a court fight with this seemingly all-encompassing patent application? Let us know your thoughts in the Talkback section below.

[Via Wired]

Topics: Apple, iPad, Tablets

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Talkback

72 comments
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  • People are aware that covers are there to protect your device right?

    If dropping the cover sets you back as much as dropping the device itself, it's not really that great a cover.

    I'm also not seeing how you could actually manipulate the folding cover in such a way to act as an extended desktop. At best, I could see it being used to relay information about the device when the cover is closed...but then you might as well not have the cover at all.
    Aerowind
    • My favorite part of the drawing?

      How the status message is upside down and pointed away from the tablet operator.

      "Hey Jim, can you tell me the status of my iPad? I can't see it from here. Thanks bud."
      toddbottom3
      • LOl

        Todd,

        That's probably the funniest thing I ever read by you. Kudos!
        fldbryan@...
      • no no no

        Silly, that status message is not meant for the owner of the tablet. Its there so that when he is at starbucks he can print messages like "look I'm pretending I can do real work, don't I look cool. wait I'm gonna light up a camel now too...yeah I am kool"
        rengek
        • Status message

          Big Apple logo is a status message:
          I am cool, I am creative, I can afford Apple products, I bought latte, I do not have a place to work.
          paul2011
          • Man there is lot of whiners in this thread already

            non-biased
  • So What

    So what - Apple had a picture of something.

    Leonardo Da Vinci drew a picture of a flying device, are his relatives going to sue Boeing ??

    Star Trek and 2001:ASO had a mock-up an iPad like device, are they going to sue Apple.

    Total hor5e5h1t.
    neil.postlethwaite
    • Da Vinci didn't have today's patent system

      Sadly if he did his family would be suing
      Richard Flude
      • I think his patents 'might' have expired by now.....

        .
        12312332123
  • one expensive tablet

    all i can say is this could cause the tablet to break $1000
    erichon99
  • Filing fantasy patents is cheap

    It's call "patent squatting" - just file any idea you can think of without actually making any of them and sue others if they just happened to spend money and hard work to make something happen.

    I can almost imagine that Apple have an army of full time sci-fi writers doing nothing but writing fantast patents for future lawsuits. With current patent system, what could possibly go wrong with that?
    Samic
    • "patent squatting"

      For a company like Apple, its more like patent protection from the true patent trolls that waits for a large corporation to release anything close to what they patented to sue (in Texas). For Apple, it's more like this patent is our assurance or insurance that we are protected when we eventually release our own smart cover with keyboard.

      Apple is no different from a Microsoft, Google, Sony or any other large corporation that are constantly working on and developing new ideas. Google had their Google labs, Microsoft have their labs. Patenting stuff you are working on is not unique only to Apple, they all do it.
      dave95.
      • yeah but

        consider how many lawsuits google and microsoft have filed in the last 24 months. Contrast that to Apple who went on a happy patent lawsuit spree. Of course apple didn't sue MS or google since that little boy is scared to death to tangle with the big boys' lawyers.
        rengek
        • Microsoft has threatened more companies

          in the last 6 months than Apple has in the last 6 years.
          Jumpin Jack Flash
          • facts

            and references. Or your lying again
            MrCaddy
          • Proof

            All the Android manufactures, NOOK, Motorola.. to name few
            Ben_rockwood
          • Are you high?

            Microsoft signed patent licensing agreements with all of those companies. The only ones they sued were Motorola and B&N. They settled with B&N and beat Motorola. Do you really want me to compare that to all of the legal battle and lawsuits Apple has brought?
            jhammackHTH
          • high

            No, Microsoft is not threatened any company, when they send a love letter to the next Android maker in the list, that contains love whispers like "We propose you pay us a license fee for a number of patents we are not going to disclose, of the amount..., OR...!"

            This is not threatening, right? It's just an invitation to date? Or to a party... (paid for by the attendees)
            danbi
          • Apple has threatened more companies

            in the last 6 minutes than Microsoft has in the last 6 years.
            William Farrel
          • Autoignore

            milo ducillo