In a matter of months, Microsoft's
Surface tablet with integrated keyboard will be available, and who knows what other innovations the company's hardware partners will bring to the table. Perhaps in an attempt to stay ahead of the curve, Apple
is looking into embedding a touchscreen display into a new generation of Smart Covers for the iPad.
A filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTSO) reveals Apple's proposed design in some detail. Apple's thought process is that the Smart Cover's display could add an additional row of icons when opening the iPad in portrait mode, and in landscape mode, it could accommodate input from a stylus.
Another of Apple's sketches shows the iPad and Smart Cover as depicted above, but with the bottom three quarters dedicated to an integrated keyboard similar to Microsft's Surface, and the top quarter containing the secondary display portion.
None of this means as shipping product is imminent, but depending on when the next iPad (iPad 4) launches, we could see a new generation of Smart Covers like we've seen before.