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Apple scores patent for iPad cover with built-in flexible touchscreen

Apple’s Smart Cover and Smart Case really aren’t that smart. They can act as stands, put your iPad to sleep and it lets you peek at things, but this new patent shows that Apple wants to make a cover that’s really smart.

The U.S. Patent Office just published a treasure trove of patents that had been granted to Apple, and this one for a “cover attachment with built-in flexible display” was among them. If you’ve been reading for a few years, you might remember it: the patent application got our attention when it surfaced way back in 2012.

You can see one of the applications Apple envisioned above — a secondary display that could allow you to trace or draw objects using a stylus (which, of course, they’ve already started selling as the $99 Apple Pencil).  Other drawings in the patent show the cover display performing a different (but familiar) role:

Apple is already selling a keyboard attachment for the iPad Pro that they claim is a totally new type of keyboard, but it’s really a totally new type of iPad keyboard. The one on their adaptive touchscreen cover, however, truly would be something new.

The patent shows the cover display being used for more than just touchscreen input. The portion at the back that’s allowing the iPad to stand, for example, is shown at one point displaying track information for songs as they play. Another image shows the cover doing its part to keep the iPad powered — thanks to the addition of solar cells.

Apple may never release a cover with a flexible display or solar cells, but hey, they already released a stylus like the one shown in this patent and the iPad Pro’s Smart Connector was shown here, too. Perhaps they’ll circle back for another new product.

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