What it is: Apple recently patented a device that combines an iPhone and iPad in what appears to be a laptop design.
A recent patent by Apple shows a way to combine an iPhone and an iPad into a traditional clamshell laptop design. In the first design, a user can place an iPhone where the trackpad would be. In the second design, a user can place an iPad where the screen should be.
While many of Apple’s patents never turn into actual shipping products, they can still highlight what Apple might be working on next. With these recent patents, it might indicate why Apple has failed to update their Macintosh lineup for so long. It’s not that hard to stuff faster processors or more memory into a computer case, so maybe the real reason Apple has delayed updating the Macintosh lineup for so long is because they’re planning something radical and it’s taking longer than expected.
Could Apple release a laptop that lets you use your iPhone as a trackpad? Or a laptop that lets you remove the screen and use it as an iPad? This second potential design mimics Microsoft’s Surface Book. The difference is that Microsoft’s Surface Book runs Windows 10 as both the laptop operating system and the tablet operating system. Since Windows 10 isn’t optimized as a tablet, sales of Surface Books hasn’t exploded in popularity.
The possible Apple design would let users use their iPad as a laptop screen. This could be as simple as another keyboard case for an iPad, or it could be as complicated as letting you use macOS for computing purposes and then switch to iOS as a tablet if you remove the screen. Such a design would be complicated to implement but could be possible. The key is whether it will be useful enough for people to buy.
The design using the iPhone as a trackpad seems simpler to implement, but also needs to address different size iPhone models. A larger iPhone 7 might work well as a trackpad, but a smaller iPhone SE might not. Getting iOS to coordinate with macOS as a trackpad or screen could prove troublesome since you now need two operating systems to coordinate their activities while still working separately.
A far better solution would be to continue beefing up the capabilities of iOS so it becomes just as powerful as macOS. Once that occurs, there’s little reason to continue using macOS. Of course, that time period will likely be far in the future. In the meantime, expect macOS and iOS to remain separate and patent designs to remain theoretical until they become actual products (if ever).
Anyone in the market for a combination macOS/iOS device?