Apple files for patent on Smart Cover with embedded display

Apple's patent application, which was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office, involves a cover that could display extra icons.

The current Smart Cover with minimal smarts. (Credit: Apple)

Apple has some ideas up its sleeve to make its Smart Cover, well, smarter.

The US Patent and Trademark Office published an application that Apple had filed last year and related to a Smart Cover boasting a "thin flexible display" that "greatly enhances the overall functionality of the tablet device".

According to the patent application, the cover would come with a connector that would attach to the tablet, to draw power. Once connected, the Smart Cover could be used to "present visual information" and work with the same touch technology found in a slate's display. In one image in Apple's patent application, the company shows the Smart Cover displaying icons that users could interact with, simply by clicking on them.

Engadget, which was first to discover the patent application, posted a host of photos from the document showing how the Smart Cover might work. In one case, Apple describes a method for folding it under the iPad and allowing users to control on-screen video with touch controls on the cover. In another, the Smart Cover is laid out below the iPad to create a dual-screen experience, similar to Nintendo's 3DS. Apple also presented an image showing how the cover could double as a virtual keyboard.

Interestingly, Apple's Smart Cover won't lose its current functionality. The cover would still be used to protect the iPad's screen and would be flexible, allowing users to fold it and use it as a stand.

In June, Microsoft announced its own cover for its upcoming Surface tablet. That cover, which will protect the tablet's screen, can be unfolded and used as a keyboard.

Whether Apple will launch its improved Smart Cover to compete against Microsoft's offering remains to be seen. Apple, like other tech companies, files a slew of patent applications for products that, even if the relevant patents are awarded, never launch.

CNET has contacted Apple for comment on the patent application. We will update this story when we have more information.

Via CNET.com



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MarkM3 posted a comment   

Summed up nicely Chandler! I am loving the commentary on this "school yard fight". Seamus, any chance CNET can get a camera in the court room to film this for a reality tv show? I'm sure this would be bigger than any of the monotonous reality shows aired at present.

 

PaulT6 posted a comment   
Australia

Wouldn't surprise me if they used Samsung Flexible OLED display technology to make this smart cover to work. Fanboys should realise then Apple didn't invent the technology.

 

Chandler posted a reply   
Australia

Apple invent technology? Hah!

Apple 'invents experiences', and then tries to patent both the 'experience' and the technology behind it.

Then it sues. Everybody.

I'm not an Apple hater - Apple's products are brilliant, and some of its ideas legendary. I just hate how Apple sues everybody to stifle competition.

 

Seamus Byrne posted a reply   
Australia

The US patent system is pretty out of control. And it's hard to imagine an end to the madness anytime this century.

 

Chandler posted a reply   
Australia

And it wouldn't suprise me if apple used Samsung's flexible OLED technology, then proceeded to sue Samsung if/when it does something similar WITH IT'S OWN TECHNOLOGY...




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