This Apple patent would transform your iPhone or iPad into a MacBook

apple iphone ipad laptop dock patent pro 9 7in office multitask large
Almost since the inception of smartphones, companies have tried to turn mobile devices into full-fledged desktop computers by way of docks and other accessories. And while the concept on paper sounds incredibly useful and simple, poor execution and high cost have kept these devices out of users’ reach.

Now it appears Apple is considering the same with the iPhone and iPad — if an application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is any indication.

More: Samsung Galaxy S8 rumors and news leaks

The diagrams show two MacBook-style shells, one with a slot for an iPhone where the trackpad would normally go, and one in place of the computer’s display, where you’d dock an iPad. According to the patent, which was discovered by AppleInsider, the notebook portion could house additional ports, an external graphics card for added power, and even more memory — alongside of a physical keyboard, of course.

The iPhone or iPad — termed the “host” device in the language of the filing — could interface with the dock via a physical connector, like Lightning, or wirelessly via Bluetooth. When docked, an iPhone’s touchscreen could serve as a makeshift trackpad. The iPad-compatible variant, meanwhile, comes with its own trackpad, but the tablet would also act as a touchscreen. Many have clamored for Apple to build a MacBook with a touchscreen, as lots of Windows notebooks have that capability nowadays, and this proposal would almost make that a reality.

Like so many other pitches to transform mobile devices into dedicated workstations, Apple’s bears some promise. But then there are the typical questions. Would it simply run a larger version of iOS, or another operating system more akin to MacOS? If it did use another operating system, what apps could it run? How would iOS apps scale to the larger screen? Would developers be willing to develop specialized apps for this thing? And, for iPad Pro users, would the dock play nice with the Apple Pencil?

These questions may seem secondary to the practicality of carrying a desktop-caliber computer in your pocket wherever you go, but they do impact usability. And they’re the reason why many prospective customers simply opt to buy a dedicated notebook or desktop for more serious use cases, rather than having to wonder about whether their phone or tablet will be up to the task.

It’s also worth noting that Apple is not the only major smartphone manufacturer involved with this feature. Windows Phones have had it for years — Microsoft calls it Continuum. And then, of course, there’s the recent rumor that Samsung will release a pocket-sized dock alongside the upcoming Galaxy S8 — complete with its own cooling fan, no less — that will turn that phone into a desktop as well.

It’s always been a popular idea, and perhaps mobile technology has finally reached a point where it’s more viable for users than it ever was before. Compared to other Apple patents that have surfaced as of late — touch-enabled iPhone cases, rollable iPads, and cracked screens that diagnose themselves — this one certainly appears to be the most immediately possible. The filing dates back to September 2016, and as always with patents, does not guarantee the product will see the light of day.

Product Review

The MacBook Air plays the oldies we love, but the band is getting old

We’ve waited for a long time for an update to the MacBook Air, and Apple finally delivered one. With a lot of features ported over from the MacBook Pro, is this new laptop what Apple fans have always wanted?
Deals

The best MacBook deals for November 2018

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.
Product Review

The iPad Pro is the best tablet ever. But don't sell your laptop just yet

Apple has unveiled a big redesign for the iPad Pro, slimming down the bezels, adding Face ID, and the ability to attach and charge the Apple Pencil. All of this comes at a high cost however, as the iPad Pro starts at $799.
Computing

The MacBook Air’s battery is easier to replace, but you can’t do it at home

Even though Apple is providing tools to service technicians to make it easier to replace the MacBook Air's battery when you take your laptop in for repair, users still won't be able to do swap batteries at home.
Computing

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.
Computing

Installing fonts in Windows 10 is quick and easy -- just follow these steps

Want to know how to install fonts in Windows 10? Here's our guide on two easy ways to get the job done, no matter how many you want to add to your existing catalog, plus instructions for deleting fonts in the process.
Computing

After a month of bugs, the Windows 10 October 2018 Update is finally here

After more thoroughly investigating and resolving all bugs and related issues, Microsoft is announcing the Windows 10 October 2018 is again rolling out to consumers starting today, November 13. 
Computing

Changing file associations in Windows 10 is quick and easy with these steps

Learning how to change file associations can make editing certain file types much quicker than manually selecting your preferred application every time you open them. Just follow these short steps and you'll be on your way in no time.
Emerging Tech

New simulation shows how Elon Musk’s internet satellite network might work

Elon Musk has the dream of building a network for conveying internet traffic via thousands of satellites. A new simulation created by a computer scientist looks at how feasible the idea is.
Computing

A dead pixel doesn't mean a dead display. Here's how to repair it

Dead pixel got you down? We don't blame you. Check out our guide on how to fix a dead pixel and save yourself that costly screen replacement, or an unwanted trip to your local repair shop.
Computing

Great PC speakers don't need to break the bank. These are our favorites

Not sure which PC speakers work best with your computer? Here are the best computer speakers on the market, whether you're working with a tight budget or looking to rattle your workstation with top-of-the-line audio components.
Computing

Printing to PDF in Windows is easy, no matter which method you use

Microsoft's latest operating system makes it easier than ever to print to PDF in Windows, but there are alternative methods for doing so, even if you want to forgo Adobe Acrobat. Here's how.
Computing

These are the 5 best free antivirus apps to protect your MacBook

Malware protection is more important than ever, even if you eschew Windows in favor of Apple's desktop platform. Thankfully, protecting your machine is as easy as picking from the best free antivirus apps for Mac suites.
Computing

These laptop bags will keep your notebook secure wherever you go

Choosing the right laptop bag is no easy feat -- after all, no one likes to second-guess themselves. Here are some of the best laptop bags on the market, from backpacks to sleeves, so you can get it right the first time around.