A recently uncovered Apple patent hints that a very interesting iPhone-MacBook hybrid may be in the works at the Cupertino-based brand. The document describes an electronic accessory device which can expand the usefulness of a portable phone or tablet.
In layman’s terms, Apple is talking about a thin laptop which has all the essential markers of a notebook such as a physical keyboard, large display, and ports, but is essentially a dummy piece of hardware since it doesn’t have a CPU at its heart to power operations. This is where an iPhone or iPad would come in.
As described in the patent, a person would be able to dock their iPhone in the space normally reserved for the trackpad. The smartphone would then act as the main CPU and perhaps even do double duty as the touchpad complete with Force Touch and haptic feedback.
As pointed out by AppleInsider, the surface area of a 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus is nearly identical to that of a trackpad found in some of the newer MacBook Pro models. The host iPhone may perhaps mirror its screen on to the laptop accessory or transfer data.
Some versions even mention having the dummy laptop carry a GPU so that it can help the host iPhone conduct graphics rendering beyond the scope of a handset. There are even variants wherein an iPad is used as the device’s panel, making way for a touch-ready display.
Apple already promotes its iPad as a laptop replacement complete with a Smart Keyboard accessory. In that light, it’s unlikely the company will try to bring the patent to life in the future. Such a contraption has been tried out by others before, to less-than-positive results.