Apple’s possible plans for an iPad smart cover reminiscent of Microsoft’s Surface were revealed in a patent application published Thursday. The design differs from Microsoft’s iPad competitor in that Apple’s keyboard would double as a Multi-Touch gesture keyboard, eliminating the need for a touchpad.
Drawings filed with the patent show how it would be possible to use the iPad cover in various configurations. Several hinges allow the iPad smart cover to fold away with the tablet and keyboard, while the cover would feature magnets to lock its various components in place. In one embodiment of the patent, Apple suggests that electromagnets could be used.
The keyboard, meanwhile, would communicate wirelessly with the iPad. Gestures could be carried out using a transparent or semitransparent touch-sensitive panel. In one proposed version of the patent, the keyboard could be virtual, with the touch interface taking place on a completely smooth surface.
Apple’s “Cover For Electronic Device” patent application was filed Sept. 21, 2012. It names John Elias, one the engineers for the touch technology behind the original iPhone, as its inventor.