Apple Files Patent For iPhone To MacBook Laptop Dock Design

For whatever reason, Apple continues to drag its feet in offering a true laptop with a touchscreen display. However, it hasn't abandoned touch functionality on laptop systems completely. Apple introduced the Touch Bar on its latest MacBook Pro model, which replaces the row of Function keys at the top, and now it's been discovered that Apple filed a patent to dock an iPhone or iPad onto a MacBook-looking laptop.

Apple's application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office is for an "electronic accessory device" that can "extend and expand usefulness of a portable computing device." Put more plainly, it's essentially a dock built into laptop.

MacBook iPhone

One of Apple's diagrams shows an iPhone fitting into the base of the laptop where a touchpad would normally be located. The iPhone could take the place of a touchpad, though Apple does not stop there. Its patent describes a laptop with all of the necessary components, save for the CPU, which is a role that would be served by the iPhone or iPad.

"In one embodiment, the accessory device can have a form factor of a laptop computer having a display and a keyboard as well as other output/input devices known to be available with a laptop computer. The accessory device, however, does not have the processing resources (such as a CPU) generally associated with a conventional laptop computer. In this regard, the host device can provide the necessary computing resources, but it is the accessory device that provides additional functionality, such as a large display, enhanced audio capabilities, and further input means," Apple states in its patent application.

MacBook iPad

In another diagram the patent applications shows an iPad docked to the main display of the laptop. As with the other scenario, the tablet would power the system, though it's not clear if the system would run iOS (baked into the iPad) or OS X (potentially baked into the laptop's storage device).

The patent was filed in September of last year. As is always the case, having a patent doesn't necessarily mean Apple will bring this sort of thing to fruition. It might be testing the design in some lab in Cupertino, along with other experiments. It's certainly an interesting idea, though.