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Apple explores using an iPhone or iPad to power a laptop

It's a unique spin on the convertible laptop formula.
Devindra Hardawar, @devindra
March 23, 2017
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The notion of using a phone to power a computer isn't new -- we've seen companies like HP and Motorola try, and ultimately fail, to make it a reality for years. But that's not stopping Apple from considering the idea. The USPTO issued a patent filing this morning detailing how an iPhone, or an iPad, could be used to power an ultraportable laptop, AppleInsider reports. As usual, the patent idea likely won't end up turning into full-fledged product (it was originally filed last September). But it gives us an idea of how Apple is looking at the future of mobile devices and ultraportables.

The patent filing shows off multiple forms of a potential "electronic accessory." One features a slot near the trackpad area where you can drop in an iPhone, which provides all of the hardware necessary to run the Macbook-looking ultraportable. And, in a truly unique spin, the iPhone would also serve as the actual trackpad. Another concept describes sliding an iPad in the screen area to power the accessory. Apple also considers plugging additional batteries and GPU hardware in the accessory base to buoy the performance of the iPhone or iPad.

This might all seem a bit crazy, but it makes sense for Apple to be considering new ways to use its mobile hardware. Both the iPhone and iPad are getting faster every year, and such a nimble accessory could give Apple some intriguing ways to combat the rise of convertible, touchscreen-equipped PC laptops. We're in a world where Microsoft's Surface devices are demonstrating far more innovation when it comes to portable computing, and where Apple is being forced to respond with its iPad Pro line. It's about time for the Cupertino company to try something new.

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