The future of the MacBook? Apple patents ‘superdock’ to turn your iPhone into a fully fledged laptop

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Apple is developing technology that transforms your iPhone into a MacBook.

The Cupertino company has received a patent for a system that connects a smartphone or an iPad to an ‘accessory device’, which has the same feel and look of a laptop.

A docking station for the handheld gadgets would sit where the trackpad or display are in a traditional laptop, providing users with a physical keyboard and larger screen.

The patent, entitled ‘Electronic accessory device’, was first spotted by Apple Insider.

The application describes an accessory device, the MacBook-like shell, having a docking port suitable for accepting a host device, an iPhone or iPad.

The laptop-like device would be fitted with ‘operational components and a communication port that facilitates formation of a communication channel between the host device and at least one of the operational components where the host device provides substantially all processing resources and has full access to the at least one operational component,’ reads the patent.

The accessory device appears to contain all of the hardware found in traditional laptops such as a large display, physical keyboard, GPU, ports and other necessary components.

But it can only function when a user places their smartphone or tablet into the docking station.

When using the iPhone compatible device, users place the handset where the trackpad would be and with the iPad, it would be positioned where a display sits in traditional laptops.

And the devices would connect to the laptop-like device through a physical connector such as Lightning, or wirelessly via Bluetooth

‘The accessory device, however, does not have the processing resources (such as a CPU) generally associated with a conventional laptop computer,’ the patent explained.

‘In this regard, the host device can provide the necessary computing resources, but it is the accessory device that provides additional functionality, such as a large display, enhanced audio capabilities, and further input means.’

Apple suggested that the shell could be made aluminum, as it boasts characteristics that ‘make it a good choice for the multipart housing’.

For example, this type of metal is a good electrical conductor and would simplify the manufacturing process.

Because an iPad could be used to power the accessory device, users would be able to maneuver through the display using just touch commands – the iPad is the display.

‘In addition to the keyboard, the accessory device can include a touch sensitive device along the lines of a touch pad, touch screen, etc,’ reads the patent.

 

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