Former Apple employee: Apple worked on Surface-style keyboard cover for iPad, could announce at ‘haven’t covered everything’ event

Apple has published multiple patent applications for keyboard covers for its iPad that sort of resemble what Microsoft did in its keyboard cover for Surface. Until now, however, Apple has relied on third-party vendors like Logitech, Zagg (who has already announced a new iPad 5 keyboard case) and Belkin to provide these covers. Logitech and Zagg have had keyboard covers for the iPad since before both the patent application above and Microsoft’s Surface announcement.

But today, Jamie Ryan, who lists Apple Developer Relations as a recent job, says that Apple has been working on a prototype of such a device and could release it at tomorrow’s event. He thinks it could be Bluetooth 4.0 to save power and was ‘told other cover like accessories are also being looked at.’

The patent shown above also includes other innovations such as solar power, big media control buttonsmulti-touch, wireless charging and even a second displayRead more

Apple invents a flexible material to create truly seamless enclosures for MacBooks & other products

The US Patent & Trademark Office today published a new Apple patent application (via PatentlyApple) that details a flexible material that could be used as a hinge to create a seamless enclosure for devices like the MacBook, for example. Apple details a technical process of using specialized machinery to laser cut “flex apertures” and interlocking features in a rigid material to allow it to bend and function as a hinge. On top of creating a seamless enclosure, Apple claims the process would allow it to reduce the size of devices that are often increased due to traditional hinge solutions. Imagine if the enclosure of a MacBook didn’t include that black plastic hinge and instead appeared to be a seamless piece of aluminium connecting the display to the bottom half of the unibody.

While MacBooks might seem like the obvious application for Apple’s invention, it also notes the usual list of devices that could potentially use the technology including everything from smartphones to televisions and game consoles. The patent also shows the material being used on headphone cables to allow a flexible connection from the cable to the earbud to prevent damage, and on what appears to be an iPad Smart Cover-like accessory: Read more

Apple patents unlikely SmartCover wireless charging system

However unlikely—the United States Patent and Trademark office today published an Apple patent application that details a system of inductively charging an iPad through the Smart Cover. The idea is that rather than plugging in the iPad, the Smart Cover would include an inductive power transmitter that would allow it to pair with an inductive power transceiver embedded into the iPad. The result is the Smart Cover would become a wireless charging station, connecting to an external power source, and allowing you to power your iPad in various positions. Apple also explained that it could use “ambient power gathering devices, such as solar cells, can be used to gather ambient power (such as sunlight) to be stored internally in the flap for later inductive transfer.”

A method for wireless powering a tablet device, comprising: determining if a protective cover is in a closed configuration with respect to the tablet device; enabling a wireless power receiver circuit in the tablet device when it is determined that the protective cover is in the closed configuration with respect to the tablet device; and wirelessly receiving power from a wireless power transmitter associated with the protective cover.

Apple described the advanced Smart Cover as including multiple power transmitters to allow the iPad to charge even when using the case, for example, as a stand to prop up the device. Alternatively, the cover could continue charging the device when in the closed position or when an iPad is placed on top: Read more

Apple’s $39 iPad Mini Smart Covers already being delivered

Ahead of the iPad mini landing this Friday in the hands of those who pre-ordered, the Smart Cover for the iPad mini has been delivered to a number of customers already. Apple made the covers available to customers last Friday for $39—available in red, dark gray, light gray, pink, green, and blue.

The Smart Cover attaches magnetically to the side of the iPad and folds over to cover the front. It can be folded three times for different viewing angles. Check out our review of the 10-inch version.

For those who pre-ordered, the iPad mini is currently on track to be delivered this Friday. What a tease…

Thanks, MN_Kid!

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Apple takes Samsung to court over patented smart cover for smartphones and tablets

UPDATE [Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 7:25am ET]: A Samsung spokesperson chimed in, providing us with the official statement, included at the end of this article.

After Samsung confirmed the addition of four more complaints to its German patent offensive (two are standard-related patents, the other two being utility patents) on Monday, Apple this morning fired back by extending its Australian patent complaint to include Samsung-made cases for Galaxy tablets and smartphones, according to Bloomberg.

Apple issued the notice of infringement to Samsung in Australia over the cases, and will file a statement of claim, Apple’s lawyer Stephen Burley said at a hearing in Sydney today. Samsung’s lawyer Katrina Howard said at the same hearing the company was served with the notice that the cases infringe at least 10 patents.

The two companies are embroiled in a complicated legal fight that already includes more than 30 lawsuits filed against each other across the globe. The exact nature of Apple’s patent infringement claim concerning smartphone and tablet cases is not known, but 9to5Mac can’t help but wonder whether it has something to do with this.

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