With the foldable craze in full speed, it seems like every major player on the smartphone market tries to dish out a device that can flex and bend. Apple is exploring a different approach with a new patent
, spotted by Windowslatest
. The patent in question is titled “System with multiple electronic devices” and was filed way back in 2017 and published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on March 10th, 2020. It allows two devices to connect with each other and share hardware and software resources. This is done by simply putting the edges of the devices together. Here’s an excerpt from the patent’s description:
“Multiple electronic devices may be used together in a system. The electronic devices may use sensor measurements and other information to detect when an edge of a first electronic device is adjacent to an edge of a second electronic device. In response to detection of adjacency between the edges of the first and second devices, the devices may transition from an independent operating mode in which each device operates separately to a joint operating mode in which resources of the devices are shared. In the joint operating mode, images may extend across displays in the devices, speakers in the devices may be used to play different channels of an audio track, cameras and other sensors may be used in cooperation with each other, and other resources may be shared. Magnetic components may hold devices together in a variety of orientations.”
It appears Apple has been working on the system for more than two years and it might offer a unique user experience – if this concept transforms into a retail product, of course. Putting two iPhones or iPads together and using them as one device may offer some real-world benefits like larger screen estate, but it’s tough to imagine someone buying two identical devices just for the sake of it. It’s also worth noting that the idea is not entirely new - a company called Mosaic showed an app for iOS back in 2013 with similar features: drag and drop file and image sharing between multiple devices.
There’s also the Surface Duo - Microsoft’s own interpretation of a foldable device with two separate screens and a rather strange 4:3 form-factor. Let’s also not forget LG’s DualScreen case for the G8X which added a second display operating like a tethered device connected to the actual phone. Both Mosaic and the LG DualScreen case never really took off, and Surface Duo is still in its infancy, so it will be a brave move for Apple to make another attempt at the dual-screen idea. The company already has a patent filing
for a "Foldable cover and display for an electronic device." in May 2019, indicating that Apple is considering a foldable iPhone or iPad as well. Time will tell if any of these concepts bear fruition.