5 Apple patents hint at looming surprises

“Apple is back in the headlines this week, due not only to the company’s mixed earnings report, announced Monday, but also the public release of two new patents: a stylus that can produce both fine-point and thick strokes on a touchscreen, depending how the user orients the pen; and a solar-powered laptop whose rear panel includes touch controls and even a second screen,” Michael Endler reports for InformationWeek. “Apple hasn’t indicated whether it will ever release products based on these patents. Like most companies of its scale, Apple has registered countless inventions that haven’t been integrated into any products and which might never be.”

“Indeed, Apple executives frequently dismiss concepts covered in many of the company’s patents. CEO Tim Cook and other Apple leaders have shown only disdain for touchscreen PCs and laptop-tablet hybrids, for example, even though patents indicate the company has repeatedly investigated the idea,” Endler reports. “But Apple execs’ distaste for certain ideas isn’t always as firm as it appears. Before the iPad Mini became a hit, Steve Jobs famously belittled smaller tablets. Jobs also rejected stylus accessories and other concepts Apple has continued to explore since its founder passed away.”

“Granted, these patents might exist as much to block competitors’ moves as to advance future Apple products. But with the PC market still fragile and the tablet market rapidly maturing, Apple, which has spent the last year iteratively improving products rather than aiming for game changers, might use 2014 to launch more attention-grabbing technologies,” Endler reports. “What concepts has Apple been exploring? Here are five of Apple’s recent eye-opening patents.”

1. A stylus that makes writing on iPads like writing on paper
2. A solar-power MacBook with touch controls on the rear panel
3. Solar-powered iPad keyboards and 2-in-1 MacBook-iPad hybrids
4. Touchscreen MacBooks and iMacs
5. iPads with 3D gesture control

Read more about all five Apple patents in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “MotivDev” for the heads up.]


    1. I wouldn’t describe the PC market as still fragile, I am more inclined to say that the PC markets decline has become even more fragile! Because PC buyers are becoming an endangered species soon to be sited on CITES register!

    1. It’s all that multitasking going on, like the newsrooms in 1940s movies about aggressive editors and reporters, except now it’s at home and the wife complaining about the plumbing, the little monsters running amok, the live-in relatives addicted to game shows driving you bonkers as you try to bulk-delete the hate mail and find a moderate tone in your responses to the landlord, the ISP, your brokers and go-betweens and trying to clean up your database and maintain a smiley attitude whilst tapping out sometimes snippish, sometimes sublime “takes” in your only really private moments, the loo.

  1. I. Want. That. Stylus. Now. Dammit!
    I really would welcome a stylus with a fine tip that would let me jot down quick notes, rather than peck away at a screen, and also sketch and paint, and not one of those stupid rubber nubbins that most stylii have.

  2. I disagree with Rohrschach that the faux Latin plural of stylus requires a double ending, but I do agree that pecking around on an iPad or iPhone screen is tedious. I don’t peck, I don’t write, I don’t have any styli, uh stylii, uh styliii, aw shucks, hoc lingua latina non est, I don’t have any styluses to misplace.

    iPads and iPhones, and even Macs take dictation these days. I speak and they obey.

  3. The problem with a stylus on a glass surface is that it is rather difficult to emulate the friction of a pen or pencil on paper. The lack of resistance for a stylus over glass makes it rather difficult to control speed and tracking of the extremely fine motor skills writing requires. The drag offered by both the paper and the graphite, nib to ball point is important to accuracy and legibility.
    The second aspect that needs to be appreciated is that most writing on paper also exhibits a certain degree of sponginess of the material on which you are writing.
    Next, when completing forms, the size of the input area becomes important.
    These aspects may seem to be subtle but they are important.

    The feel of a pen or pencil is always an important consideration for me – whether I am jotting a quick note, or signing a document. Most of all, I hate the signature strips one finds on credit cards or other items that restrict the available area in which to write or sign.

  4. I must admit I keep asking myself more frequently when are they going to launch something new?

    I’m sick to death of updates – bring a couple of new killer devices out that I can spend my money on.

    Come on guys, it’s been bloody ages!!

  5. Yet more patents that don’t hint at looming surprises. Because they never do. Because people don’t understand patents.

    1. They are filed for inventions that never make it into a product or for defensive purposes. If they were going to make it into a product, they would be published when the product is released (or after).
    2. They are filed and published to coincide with the release of an actual product

    Go back in the last 10 years and find one of these pointless patent articles that actually revealed a future product

  6. It wasn’t that long ago that MDN slandered the poor souls who mentioned the advantages of a stylus. Now the hint of Apple doing it is suddenly exciting?

    The idea of converging desktops with touchscreens has been attempted and most people agree that it’s a failure. Why would anyone want Apple to make the same stupid move? The further OSX stays away from iOS, the better. Mavericks is already too grey and flat, stop the convergence now!

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