August 2, 2012

New Smart Cover May Feature External Display

Michael Harper for - Your Universe Online

As Apple fights off the Android enemy in a San Jose court this week–though the trial doesn´t resume until tomorrow– it might be a good time to take a break from all the “he said, she said” schoolyard infighting that´s been making headlines this week and focus on the more lighthearted side of Apple news. After all, it´s been a while since we´ve cracked open the “Crazy Apple Patents” file, right?

We all know that Apple owns a patent on their Smart Cover for iPad, that crazy cool accessory which not only protects your Apple tablet, but also uses magnets to stubbornly stick to the side of the thing, turn on the iPad when peeled back and even create a stand for your tablet when you´re typing or watching a film.

A new Apple patent application was released by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today revealing that Apple wants to patent the use of a secondary screen in their Smart Covers. The filing is entitled “Cover Attachment with Flexible Display,” and describes an iPad Smart Cover which would connect to the tablet via a MagSafe-esque magnetic connection capable of sharing data and displaying information on the external display.

Pretty cool, right?

Apple´s patent application offers a few suggested uses for an iPad with a touch-enabled external display: For starters, the external display Smart Cover could act as a secondary dock with which to store an extra row of commonly used apps.

Additionally, Apple could use a touch-powered Smart Cover to display movie and music playback controls. In this scenario, when you´re watching a movie on your iPad and have your tablet propped up with the smart cover, you could simply reach behind the iPad and touch either the left or right side of the folded-up Smart Cover to skip scenes rather than having to touch the screen.

Microsoft recently released something that looks awfully similar to the Smart Cover, a fact that caused some journalists to ask if Apple would soon aim their legal crosshairs Redmond´s way. Another portion of Apple´s patent application addresses this, as one of Apple´s proposed uses for this Smart Cover is as a touch-screen keyboard. Not unlike everything else they do, Apple´s patent goes beyond the simple typing functionality of Microsoft´s “Touch Cover” attachable keyboard.

One example shows the Smart Cover acting as a sort of Notification Center, displaying appointments, reminders, etc. In this example, users can even add their own reminders on the Smart Cover without having to open up the reminders app.

Another example gets plain crazy and shows a hand drawing an Apple on the secondary screen of the Smart Cover with none other than a stylus. Perhaps the stylus being used in the drawing is the Stylus from another Apple patent filing?

While Apple and Styli have a tortured history, this kind of functionality could be exactly what many artists have been clamoring for since the first iPad announcement.

Apple applied for these patents in August of 2011. The USPTO only released them today, likely to give us all something nice to think about instead of Apple suing everyone into oblivion.

This patent is one of the few which actually makes sense. Other Apple patents are either outlandish or completely ridiculous, but then again, that´s why we love them.