Apple could be looking to beef up the IQ of its iPad Smart Covers, according to a recent patent filing.
The application, first published by AppleInsider, describes an “Integrated visual notification system in an accessory device” that could see notification LEDs get built into future iterations of the Smart Cover.
This would mean that rather than merely protecting an iPad, the Smart Cover could — at the same time — alert users when they receive messages, email, social networking notifications, or even when their iPad’s battery is running low.
What Apple proposes is an accessory that shares the same format as current Smart Covers, but incorporates low-power illumination elements like LEDs or electroluminescent panels. The cover would, in some embodiments, be connected to the tablet via a MagSafe cable or electric contacts that power and control the lighting components. Alternatively, inductive charging methods and wireless protocols like Bluetooth can be deployed instead of a hardwired solution.
Another sensor would determine whether the Smart Cover has been attached, and would enable the notification system accordingly. “Shapes, words, and symbols” would be employed by the Smart Cover in order to transmit notifications, the patent application notes, and the notification’s position on the accessory would depend on its priority.
The iPad’s physical buttons (its Home button or volume keys) could then be used to dismiss notifications.
Of course, we have no idea whether the above patent will result in actual modifications being made to Apple’s Smart Cover, but the application does indicate that this is one avenue Cupertino is investigating.
The Smart Cover itself hasn’t changed much since it first launched, and at present its functionality is limited to protecting a user’s iPad while doubling as a dual-position stand.
We’ll keep you updated with further information as we receive it.