By Dan Moren
July 31, 2020 9:00 AM PT
The Back Page: Patently obvious
Notoriously secret as Apple is, there are but a limited number of ways to discover what exactly the company is developing. Thanks to our current ongoing pandemic, my surefire proprietary method—rooting through the compost bins, discarded smoothie containers, and perfectly round pizza boxes in Apple Park’s industrial trash compactors—has become impractical.
So I’m left instead with virtual trawling—which smells a lot better, at least. And there’s no better source for divining exactly what Apple is working on than the patent documents that it publicly files with a government agency. (I mean, we all tell the government exactly what we’re up to, no fibbing, right?)
I can see the skepticism in your eyes, so allow me to banish it to another plane of existence forthwith by running down three recent inventions that the company is—and I can’t stress this highly enough—definitely developing. You be the judge.
Your house is littered with the iPads of Days Past, and no doubt you wish you could put them to better use. Sure, maybe they’d make a charming drinks tray or a sub-par clipboard, but there must be some sort of technical usage for which they’d be ideally suited.
Apple’s way ahead of you. Its latest patent describes a multi-iPad system in which you could attach two of the tablets to create an ingenious device that uses one iPad as a typing surface and the second—get this—as a perpendicularly mounted display. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that this innovative form factor is going to take the tech world by storm. You can fold it closed, like, say, a binder, or rest it atop your lap, like some sort of, oh, let’s just call it a “thighsitter.” Ooh, catchy.
Heck, why stop with two iPads? Why not mount a third or a fourth to extend that display, or a fifth to construct a cunning box. Or perhaps seven or ten in a house of cards-like configuration that’s sure to impress the partner with whom you’ve been stuck at home for the last five months.
Throw those ‘phones a bone
If you’re anything like me, your childhood was spent watching “The Empire Strikes Back” and building a wardrobe inspired by that film’s inimitable fashion plate, the most stylishly dressed of all characters featured in that far, far away galaxy.
I speak, of course, of Lobot.
That shaved head? So sleek. Expressionless countenance? Baller. Wraparound headset? So ahead of its time—a long, long time ahead. But what most people don’t know is that in addition to linking Lobot to the computer systems of Cloud City, his cybernetic implant also pumped in some killer beats. That Lobot: he knew a bop when he heard one.
So it’s no surprise that Apple would take a page from this particular style icon when developing a pair of bone conduction headphones. Sure, bone conduction may not provide the best audio, and these are far more prominent than your AirPods, but it more than makes up for it by making you the envy of your friends. And, of course, it’s fully controllable by Apple Watch.
You laugh now, but who will be laughing when Apple takes the wraps off its new AirBones, eh? EH?
The number one Pencil
Despite Apple being forced to wait until Steve Jobs had passed on in order to actually release a stylus for its tablet, the Apple Pencil—especially the second-generation model—has been a hit with users.
But one thing has been lacking from the Pencil, and that’s real world applications. Drawing on the iPad is great, but what if you wanted to tap into the essence of that beautiful flower growing in your front yard? What if you could just touch it with your Apple Pencil and have that color mimicked on your device? Well, some day, you might be able to. Point it at that fire engine going by for a brilliant wall, or poke that priceless Jackson Pollock on your wall, or sample your child’s radiant blue ey—whoa, whoa, not too close there, what are you, a monster?
Okay, this is pretty cool, but I can think of one thing that would make the Apple Pencil even more useful in the real world. What if in addition to using it to draw on a tablet, it could draw on some other material, something you just have lying around the house. Like, oh, I don’t know…wood? Metal? I’m sure I’ll come up with one, just give me a minute.