Apple has new plans for its iPad Smart Cover (e.g., see-through notifications), and the patent arrives just in time for the iPad Air 2 announcement in October.
Apple’s iPad Smart Cover has always been known for its ability to put your screen to sleep when you close it and awaken your display when you open it. It seems as though Apple wants to make its Smart Cover even smarter.
According to a new Apple patent, Cupertino’s got additional uses in mind for its Smart Cover. One new use for the Smart Cover is to display notifications from the display through the cover so that users can view information such as weather and time (and email notifications and missed phone calls) without having to open the Smart Cover to view them. Notifications would be made available by way of low-light LED technology to showcase notifications on one part of the Smart Cover only. This feature is similar to HTC’s new Dot View case that provides LED lights along with a dotted cover so that notifications can be viewed. HTC’s Dot View cover seems to be an innovative idea, but it also leaves room for water damage (with the HTC One M8 lacking water resistance) and provides little protection for the smartphone itself. Hopefully, Apple can make the iPad water-resistant or provide a cover that gives better protection for its tablet than HTC’s given for its latest-generation flagship (HTC One M8).
Apple’s not only considering see-through notifications, but other potential uses for the iPad Smart Cover, such as treadmill, vehicle, and travel case mounts. If you thought Microsoft’s Surface Touch and Type Covers were innovative, the new Apple patent will make you happy: Apple’s also considering the use of its smart cover for a type of keyboard as well. We’ve heard rumors that Apple was considering an iPad Pro model with a 12.9-inch or 13.3-inch screen, and using the Smart Cover as a keyboard would be an innovative way to integrate such a bigger Smart Cover for the larger iPad (as opposed to the current 9.7-inch iPad).
Apple’s desire to increase the size of its iPad is likely due to Microsoft’s Surface Pro appeal to professional businessmen who want a larger device for productivity. The iPad has been largely a consumer product, meant more as an everyman’s device rather than a device used with most business professionals. Meanwhile, Microsoft has been selling its Surface RT line for average consumers, with a Surface Pro line for professionals. Samsung has also been selling its Note (and now NotePRO and TabPRO) lines for business professionals, too. With so many new devices becoming bigger with more capabilities, Cupertino finds itself changing to fit the needs of a growing consumer market.
At the same time, these are just patents – for now. It could be the case that Apple intends to bring these patents alive in October, but we’ll have to wait and see. Apple did patent its Lightning USB connectors before introducing them to consumers a few months later, so patents should always be considered as possibilities.