​Apple gets magnetic iPad stand patent so two iPads can become one laptop

Could this multi-purpose super-strong magnetic stand be Apple's answer to sagging iPad sales?

The new patent shows how two iPads could be configured as a laptop. Image: Apple

Why carry around a MacBook Air or even an iPad Pro with a keyboard when you could stick two iPads together and make one of them a keyboard?

Apple has now been granted a patent for its take on the concept of a super-strong magnetic stand that is sturdier and more versatile than the traditional foldable iPad covers.

According to the patent granted today, the iPad's magnetic attachment points have been used nearly exclusively for foldable iPad covers. But they're not that useful as a mount, say, for the car or a stationary exercise unit.

"This issue can be overcome by designing a more rigid attachment accessory configured to match up with the magnets built into the tablet device," the patent notes.

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The possibilities for the iPad and magnetic contraption are endless. Back in 2011 when the patent application was first filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, Apple envisaged it being attached to exercise machines, in vehicles, used in restaurants, on music stands and more.

Apple's iPad stand wouldn't use just any old magnet, which could cause damage to nearby magnetised objects, such as the magnetic stripes on the credit cards it is trying to replace with iPhones and Apple Pay. To prevent this, it suggests using rare-earth magnets, the strongest type being neodymium magnets that can be "channeled into a well-defined directional pattern".

Apple describes the device holder itself as having a cup-like function in which the iPad is slotted into and held in place by magnetic force.

The patent illustrates some of the thinking at Apple behind different devices types it has made over the years, from the Watch to the iPhone, iPad, MacBook and iMac.

As Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller recently pointed out: "It is the job of the smaller device to try to convince you that it can meet most of the needs you have for the larger device."

In that vein, one of several embodiments the patent outlines includes the magnetic stand attached to a tripod so that a photographer or videographer can review media as they're taken, after transmitting to the iPad wirelessly.

"In this way a light and portable secondary display can be easily configured for reviewing and displaying products without having to bring along a larger laptop or desktop computer," Apple notes.

The patent also illustrates how Apple's thinking about the iPad has changed since then, particularly with the recent launch of the iPad Pro with a keyboard and pen.

As per the patent, the magnetic stand can function so as to join two iPads together in "more of a laptop arrangement" with one serving as the display and the other as the keyboard.

"Without the extra magnetic power enabled by the cup portion of the tablet holder the tablet holder would not be strong enough to maintain a tablet in the orientation normally assumed by a laptop computer screen. In this way the described embodiment allows a user with two tablet devices to configure a virtual keyboard on one tablet device with a working document on the second tablet display," it notes.

As with all granted patents it remains to be seen whether Apple actually produces the invention.

Read more about Apple patents