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After a long wait, Apple may finally be ready to bring a new iPad keyboard solution to market.

The device in Apple's patent application appears to draw some inspiration from Microsoft's Surface Touch Cover.
The device in Apple’s patent application appears to draw some inspiration from Microsoft’s Surface Touch Cover.

A newly published patent application shows a new smart cover keyboard design that could be Apple’s first crack at an iPad keyboard since the dock it released back in 2010. Between then and now, third-party accessory makers have carried the torch, but aside from some well-reviewed products from Logitech, there have been few standouts in the iPad keyboard market.

Apple’s solution seems to borrow a bit from some of its third-party partners as well as from Microsoft’s Surface tablet. The keyboard itself is touch, much like Microsoft’s Touch Cover. But it appears Apple’s keyboard will double as a multi-touch surface, eliminating the need for a touchpad. Instead, users will swipe and pinch over the keys themselves.

By doing away with a touchpad, Apple can both enlarge the “swipeable” area of the keyboard and decrease the keyboard’s size.

What’s interesting is that the iPad doesn’t support any type of mouse input at this time, and it’s hard to imagine Apple adding support for mice in iOS. The iPad display is meant to be touched, and Apple would have to do some reworking in order to make the OS more friendly to this type of input. Perhaps the company plans on using the touch capabilities in certain apps only, or maybe Apple just wants to patent this implementation, and it won’t ever see the light of day.

This is just a patent application, mind you, so we can’t be sure if or when a product like this will actually appear on the market. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this story and will update if any new information surfaces.

What do you think of Apple’s idea for a smart cover keyboard? Drop us a line below with your thoughts.

[Source: Patently Apple via TechCrunch]


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