Apple Patent for Keyboard Accessory Hints at Hybrid iPad/Mac Device

Image: Patently Apple

The US Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) has granted Apple a new patent for a next-generation keyboard accessory for the iPad that appears to support multiple installation modes (via Patently Apple).

Some of the figures included in the patent are particularly interesting as they showcase a macOS or macOS-like UI on the connected iPad, possibly hinting at a hybrid iPad/Mac device.

Image: Patently Apple

The accessory features a keyboard, trackpad, and a coupling mechanism to dock an iPad. According to the included figures, the keyboard accessory and attached iPad will together complete a clamshell chassis, supporting the full range of motion of the average notebook.

With the keyboard accessory attached, you would essentially get a MacBook with an iPad for a display — especially considering the macOS-like UI. This could finally give customers what Apple has categorically refused to do for years now: put a touchscreen on a Mac.

The magnetic element for the coupling mechanism of the now-patented keyboard accessory could move between two positions to facilitate different mounting modes, based on the illustrations.

The hinge connecting the iPad to the accessory could also have a display built into it, or instead feature magnetic storage for an Apple Pencil. The back of the hinge could sport a connection interface that would allow users to attach accessories such as a camera, projector, microphone, or light.

Last week, Apple won a couple of new patents for its much-rumoured mixed reality headset. Other recent patent filings also indicate Apple is working on an advanced AirTag capable of monitoring health, as well as a Mac that fits inside a keyboard.