Skip to main content

Apple patents strange iPhone-MacBook hybrid charging dock

A recently published patent revealed that Apple has been exploring the idea of a new iPhone and iPad dock. But this would be no ordinary dock — according to the patent filing, the accessory would look a lot like a MacBook.

The patent depicts a couple of versions of the dock: one for an iPhone, and one for an iPad. In both cases, you place your device into the housing of the dock, which then charges your device and incorporates it into a MacBook-like experience.

In the iPhone version, the phone is slotted into the palm rest area, taking the place normally occupied by a MacBook’s trackpad. In such a situation, the iPhone itself would become the trackpad. The iPhone’s display is mirrored onto the charging dock’s screen, and you can control it with the in-built keyboard. The other version depicted in the patent uses an iPad as a display, fitting it into the vertical side of the dock.

The interesting thing about these ideas is that both the iPhone or iPad and the charging dock would work together, each shouldering different workloads. Apple explains in the patent that the dock could have “limited or no data processing resources,” allowing the processor in your iPhone or iPad to power the whole setup. At the same time, the dock could include a GPU, memory, speakers and a display to enhance and extend the typical iOS experience.

As the patent explains, “The electronic accessory device [i.e. the charging dock] can be considered a ‘thin’ device, in that it extends the functionality of another device but is inoperable by itself as a stand-alone device.” This is not a new kind of laptop that pairs up with your phone — it’s a strange, hybrid device that sits halfway between an iPhone and a MacBook.

That sets Apple’s patent apart from a similar idea tried a couple of years ago by Razer. The company’s Project Linda also incorporated a phone into the body of the “laptop” but in Razer’s case, the phone was intended to be a trackpad-touchscreen hybrid (sort of like the Touch Bar in Apple’s MacBook Pro). All the processing power in Project Linda was to be provided by the laptop.

Seeing as this is a patent filing — and a very experimental one at that — it may never see the light of day. If it does ever get released, it’ll be one of the most unusual devices Apple has ever produced. Keep your eyes peeled.

Editors' Recommendations

Alex Blake
In ancient times, people like Alex would have been shunned for their nerdy ways and strange opinions on cheese. Today, he…
The next MacBook Air could come with a major disappointment
A MacBook Air on a desk with an open book in front of it.

It’s something of an open secret that Apple is working on a couple of fresh MacBook Air models, including an all-new 15-inch MacBook Air. Many details about these devices have been shrouded in mystery, but a prominent analyst has just shed some much-needed light on them -- and it’s not all good news.

Posting on Twitter, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo updated his previous predictions for Apple’s lightweight laptop. In the new post, Kuo outlined a slate of ideas for what could be coming next.

Read more
This little-known feature is my favorite part of using a Mac and iPhone together
Person using iPhone and MacBook.

Apple’s ecosystem attracts plenty of praise for how all the company’s devices work seamlessly together -- and rightly so. But among all the admiring glances cast toward AirDrop, Continuity Camera and Sidecar, there’s another feature that feels a little unloved -- yet it’s a superb perk of using multiple Apple devices together.

That feature is Universal Clipboard, a handy little timesaver that shuns the spotlight and simply works diligently in the background. Yet that simple nature -- it just works, as the saying goes -- is part of what makes it so great to use.

Read more
9 new Apple products that could launch in 2023
The back of the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

As it currently stands, 2023 has already been a busy year for Apple. The company launched a new yellow iPhone 14, brought back the HomePod, and refreshed its Mac lineup with an M2 Mac mini and M2 MacBook Pro. But what else is on the docket? As it turns out, a lot more. From new iPhones, an upgraded Apple Watch, and possibly an AR headset, here are nine products we still expect from Apple in 2023.
iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro

If there is any Apple product with an upgrade cycle that’s literally like clockwork, it’s the iPhone, which is always out in the fall. This year, we can expect the iPhone 15 lineup to include an iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro, and iPhone 15 Pro Max. However, it is rumored that the iPhone 15 will have a bigger 6.2-inch display this year, but the rest of the lineup will have the same sizes as before.

Read more