Apple has been granted a patent for a new type of dock connector, discovered by PatentlyApple. The new dock connector is a "hybrid DisplayPort/USB 3.0 high speed connector." According to the patent-tracking site, "This new and extremely slim connector will work on all iOS devices like the iPod and eventually work its way through Apple's entire hardware lineup." While Apple typically files patents for technologies that never see the light of day, PatentlyApple speculates that this new dock connector could be unveiled later this year or in 2012 when Apple adds USB 3.0 ports to its Mac computers.
The patent also suggests that future iOS devices may have Thunderbolt connections since a DisplayPort and Thunderbolt connection are physically similar. Apple added Thunderbolt to the latest MacBook Pros, and it's widely expected that all Macs introduced from now on will sport the new port. A combined Thunderbolt/USB 3.0 connector would cover the Mac and PC spectrum -- while all newer Macs are likely to have Thunderbolt ports, most mid-level to low-end PCs will probably only sport USB 3.0 ports.