By Alexandra Burlacu | Aug 07, 2012 09:19 AM EDT
Apple seems to be working on a new iPad Smart Cover that would serve as a secondary touchscreen for the tablet, showing an extra row of app icons, notifications, or even acting as a full-fledged touch keyboard for the tablet. The concept was detailed in a new patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Thursday, Aug. 2, and discovered by AppleInsider.
Apple's filing with the USPTO is called "Cover Attachment with Flexible Display," and details an iPad Smart Cover that would have a MagSafe-like magnetic connection to the iPad, sharing data that would appear on the external display. The application shows a number of very creative, unique ideas how a touch-capable Smart Cover display could enhance the functionality of the iPad.
In the most basic example of such new functionality, the cover would display an additional row of icons on the home screen. Meanwhile, a more complex idea provides movie playback controls on the back of the device while in use. In another concept, the Smart Cover serves as a full-fledged touch keyboard for the iPad, similar to Microsoft's "Touch Cover" keyboard for its upcoming Windows 8 Surface tablets.
Apple's Smart Cover accessory, however, would go well beyond such concepts. One example of more versatile functionality detailed in the application shows a user holding a stylus pen to draw an Apple on the secondary display, turning the Smart Cover into a graphics tablet. Another example features the secondary display on the outside of the iPad when the Smart Cover is closed, providing the user with system-saved reminders, calendar alerts, social networking updates, and other notifications. The touchscreen functionality in this case would also allow users to add new reminders without having to open the Smart Cover.
The application was filed in Aug. 2011 and names Fletcher R. Rothkops, a manager of product design at Apple, as the inventor. Bear in mind, however, that patent applications do not guarantee the concepts in question will turn into actual products. Many don't see the light of day, but hopefully Apple is working to make this technology a reality. The iPad is already the most popular tablet on the market, but a new Smart Cover with added functionality would certainly make it even more attractive.
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