Your future Apple laptop could be an iPhone

Mar 28, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Your future Apple laptop could be an iPhone

Mar 28, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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It’s not exactly a new idea, but we all know it’s not cool until Apple does it. There have been attempts at a device like this a couple of times before. But it’s just never really taken off. We’re talking about a laptop-like dock for your smartphone. The only one that’s seen any kind of popularity at all is the Motorola Atrix Lapdock. And even that is more amongst the Raspberry Pi crowd than its originally intended target.

Published recently by the US Patent and Trademark Office, Apple’s patent provides their take on the idea. And the idea is very cool. It would be very handy to be able to just plug my phone into a larger screen and keyboard while away from home. But can Apple pull it off? Or is it another “me too!” device that’s doomed to fail?

It’s billed as an accessory. A “thin” device which extends the functionality of another device (your iPhone), but is inoperable by itself. It will have no independent processor, although it can offer some support. The patent says that it could contain a GPU or other hardware to help accelerate the phone’s performance. Given the general demands placed on laptops, this certainly wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Aesthetically, the build description seems similar to that of the MacBook Pro. Except your phone will take the place of the MacBook’s trackpad. It’s suggested that it will be made from aluminium or another lightweight, strong composite material. The LCD would also offer touchscreen abilities, so you wouldn’t solely be relying on your phone for interaction with the UI.

It’s also suggested in the patent that a similar device might become available for the iPad. This, however, would not contain its own screen. Instead you’d use your iPad’s screen, and bolt on a keyboard & trackpad. Essentially, this turns the iPad into a 2-in-1. Something like the Asus Transformer Book – which is my current location backup and mobile “keeping up with social media” solution.

It hasn’t yet been stated exactly how the iOS device will communicate with the dock. It could be a standard Lightning plug, or go wireless with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or some other technology. But it will be interesting to see if Apple are able to make a success with this type of device where so many others have tried and failed in the past.

YouTube video

The Motorola Atrix Lapdock mentioned above was shown off at CES back in 2011. Samsung also filed their own patent for a similar device to accompany the Galaxy Note back in 2015. It’s possible Samsung could’ve actually pulled that one off, if not for the Samsung Galaxy Note 7’s early demise.

Given the power that the iPad now has with the transition to the iPad Pro, adding a keyboard and trackpad makes a lot of sense. From a productivity standpoint, being able to type on a real keyboard, and interact with content in a more laptop fashion is huge.

Even as an iPhone addon, being able to slip your phone into a laptop style dock is very handy. Especially for social media on the go. I interact a lot on social media, especially when I’m away from home, and that on screen keyboard gets very annoying.

Let’s just hope that if Apple do bring this to reality, it comes at a decent price point.

You can read the full patent here.

[via Apple Insider]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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12 responses to “Your future Apple laptop could be an iPhone”

  1. Gregg Bond Avatar
    Gregg Bond

    Great so when you buy a new iPhone you need to buy a new laptop too….

  2. Julio Hnntl Avatar
    Julio Hnntl

    Oscar, quand je disais que les grandes entreprises posent de temps en temps des brevets juste pour détourné le regard des vrai recherches et trompé la concurence !!

  3. noneoftheanove Avatar
    noneoftheanove

    Check out Continuum on Win10. Obviously not too popular at the moment, but could be awesome if MS put some effort into it.

  4. Sandrigo Zoilo Avatar
    Sandrigo Zoilo

    Michael Wilczynski “irgendwann hat man nur noch sein Handy…”

  5. Hector Macias Avatar
    Hector Macias

    Pffft. No.yet apple fanbois will eat it up and claim it is

  6. Amede Phonon Avatar
    Amede Phonon

    excellent idea, closing even more the OSX system…

  7. Tim Knecht Avatar
    Tim Knecht

    Motorola did that years ago…

  8. Morten Obbink Avatar
    Morten Obbink

    maybe i have to buy a win machine then. :(

  9. Kay O. Sweaver Avatar
    Kay O. Sweaver

    “iPhones and iPads are going to replace computers!”

    “Quick! make iPhones and iPads work more like computers!”

  10. Darla St Clair Sycamore Avatar
    Darla St Clair Sycamore

    A plot to make me finally get a cell phone (and of course it has to be Apple) – lol.

  11. Mark Holm Avatar
    Mark Holm

    I like my iphone – and it is a computer – but it is not a full fledged OS – iOS is too bricked off for me – if it isn’t a version of OSX – no way – go back to a real OS

  12. KC Avatar
    KC

    Interesting. I made that point the other day (just not about Apple). I was teaching a basic computer class to adults and pointed out that most smartphones are more powerful than most home computers, and more capable. They are computers, just in a different shape.

    Then I pulled out a keyboard (that also holds my phone), and showed how my phone could connect to a display (wirelessly). I created a lot of the materials for that class with my phone and keyboard. I could present from that phone, too. I’ve also done this with a tablet in a keyboard case.

    In context, many people don’t need all the potential and complexity of a full OS, a keyboard with several hundred key combinations, menus with more layers than an onion, mice and trackpads that do “tricks”, and programs with features they may never use.

    Using a docked phone as a trackpad and the computer core has been done before.