Apple completely reimagines the iPhone case

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Apple proposed swinging iPhone case
This is the simplest way of configuring Apple’s highly innovative iPhone case concept.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Apple engineers dreamed up an iPhone case that’s also a stand and a handle. And maybe a keyboard. It’s surprisingly simple, but also a dramatic departure from typical cases.

And it’s possible the designers see this as more than an add on. They seem to be proposing that handsets and tablets have this case built in.

Apple Pencil with a built-in screen is genius

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Apple Pencil with touchscreen patent filing
Not resting on their laurels, engineers are looking for ways to improve Apple Pencil.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

A next-generation Apple Pencil could have a built-in touchscreen. And it’s apparently an actual improvement, not just something bolted on to make it cost more. The display would let the user know what color they’re about to draw with.

Apple wants to put a computer on your finger

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Apple smart ring patent
The Apple Ring, in two possible designs, might work closely with your iPhone or Mac.
Photo: Apple

Apple engineers put considerable thought into a “wearable electronic ring computing device” small enough to put on a finger.

The proposed smart ring would have a touchscreen and work closely with another computer, often acting as an input device for it.

Apple explores using multi-user eye tracking for games and more

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Multi-user eye tracking patent
A new patent shows Apple is looking into the possibilities of one computer following the eye movements of two people.
Photo: Apple

A computer tracking where its user is looking isn’t that complicated, but eye tracking two people simultaneously is more challenging. Apple worked out a method, and sees the potential for games, security and even surgery.

Apple wants to put AR navigation in your car

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Apple Maps could make driving easier with augmented reality navigation tips.
Apple Maps could make driving easier with augmented reality navigation tips.
Photo: Apple

Apple is exploring ways to build augmented reality into Apple Maps. Rather than top-down views of roads and intersections, the company is considering overlaying route information onto live views of the road ahead of the car.

Apple Maps has always lagged behind Google Maps. Building in AR could help it jump ahead.

Apple designed its very own car suspension system

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Apple car
Coming to a road near you. Eventually?
Image: Aristomenis Tsirbas/Freelancer

The question of whether Apple is building a physical Apple Car or just a software platform hasn’t been confirmed either way.

But there are a few hints, such as the fact that Apple was just granted a patent for a special suspension system for a car. Whether that part of the project continues remains to be seen.

Apple explores dual-screen MacBook with tactile keyboard

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Dual-screen MacBook patent
Apple wants to give MacBooks a second display with a tactile keyboard, ditching the built-in one.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Apple is considering a MacBook with two displays, with the second screen acting as a keyboard. By necessity, iPads already employ on-screen keyboards but these lack tactile feedback. Apple is looking for ways to make these virtual keys move when they’re typed on.

The company has been pursuing this project for years, as demonstrated by a patent it just received.

Apple might kill the Lightning port with speedier waveguides

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Apple waveguides patent
An iPhone receiving data via a waveguide wouldn’t need an external port.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Apple is looking for better options for transmitting data than wires or wireless connections. One possibility mixes the two: sending high-speed data down waveguides.

The result would something capable of transferring data much more quickly than a wire and without requiring a port on the iPhone.

Today in Apple history: Early iPad rumor gets Apple fans buzzing

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iPad Pro 2
According to the rumor, Apple was launching a 15-inch tablet.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

April 13: Today in Apple history: Early iPad rumor gets Apple fans buzzing April 13, 2005: The tech world gets excited when a sketchy rumor suggests Apple is building a tablet computer.

The Chinese-language report claims Quanta will build a 15-inch touchscreen tablet PC with detachable keyboard. Apple will supposedly ship the device in the first quarter of 2006. Things don’t turn out quite like that, but the rumor offers the first hint about Apple’s secret iPad project.