We recently covered how Apple was awarded 563 patents in 2010, but a patent approval announced today is for something we first mentioned back in January of 2010 -- a patent for power management circuitry for solar-powered portable devices. Patently Apple is reporting that the US Patent and Trademark Office published the newly approved patent, which pertains to charging and operating portable devices with solar power via a voltage converter. While most solar chargers designed for portable devices only act as a way to charge the internal battery, this patent is for a way for said power to operate the device as well. By using the converter/booster, energy gleaned from the solar panels could be monitored and configured to both charge and operate a portable device even when not in full direct sun. Could this be a precursor to an iPhone covered in solar cells?
There sure has been a lot of patent talk around here lately, especially when it comes to multi-touch patents, but that just shows that Apple is really stretching its legs and going after innovation instead of resting on its laurels. Can't wait to see what new developments 2011 brings us.