Want the freedom of an iPhone but the flexibility of a Mac laptop? You’ll soon be able to. A recently uncovered Patent shows an iPhone docking into a MacBook TrackPad. In the Patent, published on March 23rd, Apple illustrates using an iPhone as the “brains” for a MacBook-style dumb terminal, or a terminal that has no processing capabilities of its own. The patent language is dense, but here’s the gist: “An electronic accessory device, comprising: an operational component that provides an output to a user; a housing carrying the operational component, the housing having a recess; and a control interface coupled to the operational component and configured to receive a control signal from an electronic host device when the electronic host device is positioned within the recess and coupled to the control interface, wherein the electronic accessory device is inoperable without the electronic host device being coupled to the control interface.”
Huh? In plain English: your iPhone or iPad could be used as an “electronic accessory” to power your laptop. The accompanying diagram shows a terminal that looks a lot like a MacBook, with a space for your iPhone to fit where the trackpad would normally be. A separate image shows an iPad sliding into the upper casing of a MacBook-like device in place of a display.
Apple isn’t the first tech company to develop this concept; the HP Elite X3 Laptop Dock also uses the concept of a smartphone sliding into a slot on a laptop dumb terminal, but HP’s model requires you to slide your smartphone underneath the trackpad of the device; with Apple’s model, the smartphone is the trackpad.
Apple is always one step ahead of the curve. The possibilities for such a device are revolutionary – we already use our smartphones for almost everything a computer would normally do, so it makes sense for Apple to build a terminal that would make using your smartphone even easier and faster. Instead of using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to have your iOS and MacOS devices interact, the terminal would allow you to access all of your data on a large screen with a keyboard and track pad as an added bonus.
Although Apple’s put a patent on this system, it’s not clear yet when – or if – such a device would come to market, or what kind of operating system it would use. For now, all we can do is excitedly speculate and start saving our pennies and playing the lotto now; one thing is for sure that this likely won’t come cheap. Any time Apple releases a new-to-market product, they do their research on just how much profit they can squeeze out of the masses, so it’s typically one we have to scrape together every nickel and dime to afford.