Apple is clearly thinking about how it can make accessories for the iPad more useful and functional.
The company was recently granted a patent for an iPad case that can interact with apps to display notifications through the cover and more.
The accessory in the patent describes a case that has a few different panels on its cover. The way it’s drawn in the sketches that accompany the filing makes it look very similar to the cover Apple currently offers for its iPads, but with panels that can show widgets and notifications.
Most of the patent describes this idea of being able to see notifications and widgets on the iPad’s cover so that you don’t have to take it off to check your email, calendar alerts, etc. It even sounds a bit like the Dot View covers HTC has introduced for its smartphones over the past few years.
What’s more interesting, though, is that the patent also describes how this cover can work with iPad apps while the tablet is in use. When using the case as a kickstand, for example, you could configure the accessory to act as a countdown timer. The panels on the case would light up at the start of the countdown, and they would become dimmer as the countdown progresses.
Apple imagines that little features like this could be used in conjunction with apps to make them more useful. Here’s a brief description of one of the drawings from Apple’s document that describes this (emphasis is our own):
When EL panels 224-232 are visible as depicted in FIG. 2B EL panels 224-232 can be used in conjunction with an application configured to utilise the panels.
Here are some images from the filing that give you a better idea of how the case works:
The idea isn’t entirely new — as mentioned previously, HTC makes a cover that displays notifications from your phone. Samsung also has an S View cover that gives you limited access to your phone’s home screen while the display is covered.
It’s important to keep in mind that products described in Apple patents rarely come to market, though. And if they do, they’re sometimes significantly different by the time they actually turn into a real product. Still, it’s interesting to see that Apple may be experimenting with ways to broaden the functionality of its standard cover to make it even more useful for the iPad.