The patent application titled “Modular multiple display electronic devices,” filed today with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, explains that when two iPads or iPhones are connected together via an accessory, one could be used as the display, and the other as a dynamic keyboard.
The envisioned coupling accessory consists of two small connectors and a hinge, with mobile devices attaching mechanically to either side. The connector would facilitate data transfers between the devices so that they could work in unison as one system.
Images included in the patent application mainly suggest that this accessory would allow for a notebook-style setup, with one device flat on a surface, with the hinged connector accessory at the back, propping up a second mobile device, in either portrait or landscape orientations.
Use of a second display for a dynamic keyboard would offer several unique solutions, such as allowing functionality to change based on a users’ needs, much like the MacBook Pro Touch Bar. Depth and tactile feedback, the likes of which is only achieved by a physical keyboard, would likely be absent, however.
In addition to the notebook-style set up, the patent suggests that if two devices were attached along their longest edges, they could also be used in a book-style setup. This seems to be similar to the layout of the Microsoft Surface Duo.
Second-screen devices have been the subject of numerous Apple patents, such as the application “System with multiple electronic devices,” which describes how two or more devices could act as one when brought close to each other through the use of proximity sensors. While Apple files numerous patent applications on a regular basis and many never materialize practically, they can often offer an intriguing insight into Apple’s current areas of research and development.