​Apple patents tiny hotspot designed for joggers and campers

Apple has designed a mobile hotspot that could make the Apple Watch less dependent on an iPhone connection.

Mobile hotspot device the Apple way. Image: Apple

Apple has designed a mobile hotspot device that probably wouldn't make much sense were it not for the Apple Watch.

The device that most people use as a mobile hotspot today is their smartphone, providing connectivity to tablets and other computing devices while on the road. For those not so keen on tethering, there's also range of self-contained mobile hotspots that aren't particularly elegant but do the job of supplying connectivity for road warriors' tablets and laptops. Perhaps soon there might be a third way, courtesy of Apple.

The company has rethought the concept of the mobile hotspot for situations where a person wants connectivity but doesn't want to carry around their smartphone, such as when they're jogging or doing other physical activities.

Apple applied for a patent for such a device in 2013, which was published by the US Patents and Trademarks Office yesterday and spotted first by AppleInsider. The patent shows a cylindrical unit that's small enough to sit on a keychain and is activated with a twisting motion.

There's no mention of the Apple Watch in the patent, but as some have noted, it could be a useful companion for the wearable, which currently relies on an iPhone's network connection for many of its functions.

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"While mobile telephones have become more compact and easier to carry in recent years, there are times when it is not convenient or otherwise desirable to carry such devices. For example, when a user is engaged in physical activities such as jogging or otherwise exercising, or is engaged in an outdoors activity such as hiking or camping, it is not always convenient or desirable to carry multiple electronic devices," Apple says in the patent.

While the Watch is one use case for the hotspot, Apple notes that the device's compact design and smaller battery requirements also make it a useful way of avoiding connecting to shared hotspots, which for various reasons can be security risks. The device would also be would be more portable than most existing mobile hotspots.

The device would come in two portions, which house the device's electronics and SIM card, as well as a casing for an replaceable battery envisioned as a supporting anything from 250 mAh to 100 mAh. The unit could e adjusted to support different battery sizes and would vary between two inches and four inches.

Needless to say, the device described in the document is just a patent and may, like other Apple patents, never come to fruition.

See more Apple patents

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