Apple may be giving the iPad Smart Cover its first big redesign based on new documents showing a folding, origami-like option with adjustable angles.
The iPad might get an updated folding cover in the future with an Apple patent revealing what appears to be an origami-inspired design. The current iPad Smart Cover and Smart Folio have a clever folding mechanism and magnetic feature that makes it quick and easy to attach and remove, waking the iPad when the cover is lifted and sleeping when back in place. The basic design is good but not perfect, and it hasn't undergone any major changes since it was first introduced in 2011.
The iPad itself is remarkable technology, packing all the power of a laptop into a thin and light tablet. There is one area in which it's lacking advances and that is in ergonomic support. While the problem of how to use an iPad for long periods of time without arm, hand, and neck pain has been addressed by third-party accessory makers, Apple has a very limited selection of solutions. The Smart Cover, Smart Folio, and a few of Apple's keyboard covers use a similar design. Apple's Magic Keyboard stands out as the only one to allow adjustment of the viewing angle.
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Apple might finally be updating its aging iPad cover which could make it much more useful as a stand. Apple's current iPad Smart Cover and Folio have the same design as the original version, folding horizontally in two places to form a triangular stand that can prop an iPad up. While it's more convenient than carrying around a dedicated stand, the steep angle isn't terribly helpful unless lying down. It's simply too upright for easy viewing at a desk, table, or counter. A newly granted Apple patent (H/T Patently Apple) document shows a much more interesting and adjustable cover that folds a bit like origami to lay the iPad back further for easier viewing.
After ten years with the same folding iPad cover design, Apple might be ready to introduce something new that solves a common problem. An origami-like iPad cover might allow altering the viewing angle of the iPad by pinching and shaping the cover in different configurations. Using internal magnets, the structure would favor particular arrangements, where the invisible force would pull and lock in the shape. As with the original Smart Cover, this new design has the ability to fold flat and function as a screen cover when the iPad isn't in use.
Apple presents several alternate designs, including one with a keyboard included. An interesting possibility mentioned is that the cover might also serve as a supplemental power source for the iPad, containing a battery. The Apple patent document also describes use with smaller devices and says the cover might be referred to as a charging mat. While a patent doesn't necessarily mean this product will ever be made, it's quite interesting, and Apple really should update its iPad cover accessories.
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Source: USPTO (H/T Patently Apple)
Alan is a Tech Writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. A tech-enthusiast since his youth, Alan stays current on what is new and what is next. With over 30 years experience with computer, video and photo equipment, you can expect useful tips and insights in his writing. Alan has a degree in programming, many years focused on design, editing and animation. The last few years managing logistics and e-commerce operations for a mobile accessories company took much of his time. Alan is a true jack of all digital trades in this ever changing computer-enriched world. To stay flexible in thinking and in body, he practices yoga, light cardio and eats a whole food diet, based on minimally processed plants.