Apple patents: 8 game-changing ideas we wish would come true

Apple patents: Woman at laptop looking very surprised
(Image credit: Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels)

Want to know the future of Apple? Then you just need to look at the latest Apple patents. Admittedly, these product concepts haven't actually been produced yet. But Apple has put time and effort into registering them legally, so we're assuming they're pretty serious about them.

In this post, we've gathered together eight Apple patents that look like potential game-changers. We can't wait, in short, for Apple to develop them. In the meantime, be sure to bookmark our dedicated Apple Amazon Prime article for some great deals on existing Apple products. 

Read on to discover the exciting future of Apple products ... we hope!

01. Laptop/iPhone hybrid

Apple patent

This Apple patent shows how a future MacBook could be powered by placing your iPhone in the slot (Image credit: Patently Apple)

This Apple patent features an idea so simple, it's brilliant. Clearly depicted in the drawing above, the filing envisages a hybrid device in which your Apple laptop is powered by your iPhone, which you'd just drop into a slot on the keyboard. Of course, that implies the iPhone of the future will be a lot more powerful than it is right now, but that's a future we can all enthusiastically support!

02. Foldable iPhone

Apple patents: line drawing of foldable iPhone

This Apple patent goes into a lot of mechanical detail to ensure its folding iPhone will actually work (Image credit: Apple)

Foldable devices are expected to be one of the big tech stories of the 2020s. But they haven't been an unqualified success so far. As we reported last year, the first Galaxy Fold screens broke immediately, and this patent suggests that Apple is being more cautious in its approach. The mechanical detail in this filing suggests that they won't release a foldable iPhone until it's guaranteed to actually work, and we can certainly applaud that.

03. Bendable MacBook

Apple patents: Line drawing of bendable MacBook

This Apple patent points to a bendable future for its laptops (Image credit: USPTO Patent Database)

If the future's foldable, it's also bendable; well according to this Apple patent, anyway. This bendable MacBook design means that rather than having a hinge between the display and the keyboard, there'll be a "bendable portion". 

We're not sure whether the impetus behind this is purely visual, whether it will allow for more flexible viewing angles, if it will be more durable... or something we haven't thought of yet. Either way, we trust Apple's designers know what they're doing, and that once it's out there, we'll all be craving one like there's no tomorrow.

04. Apple stylus that draws in mid-air

Apple patents: Line drawing of stylus that draws in mid-air

This Apple patent suggests you'll be able to draw in three dimensions (Image credit: Apple)

Ever since the Wii introduced us to waving stuff about in the air, we've been fascinated by the idea of a stylus that's not limited by two dimensions. That's what's promised in this Apple patent, and we can't wait for the company to develop it. The filing suggests that "the content can be generated based on tracking position and/or motion of the input device without requiring contact with a surface." And anyone who's tried creating 3D art using a VR tool like Tilt Brush will know why we're so excited about this.

05. Colour-reading Apple stylus 

Apple patents: Line drawing of Apple pencils drawing on two surfaces

The colour picker is coming to the physical world, according to this Apple patent (Image credit: Apple/USPTO)

Here's one of the most imaginative Apple patents we've seen in a long while. The idea is that you'd be able to sample a colour from the real world, just by pointing at it, then immediately start using it within your design. Just fabulous.

The filing describes a colour sensor within the Apple Pencil, equipped with multiple photodetectors, which would allow you to do just that. This could be a real game-changer for both designers and artists, allowing them to curate original and eye-catching colour palettes in a highly intuitive manner.

06. iPads that connect together

Apple patents: Diagram of two iPads connected together

Connecting iPads together could give you more screen real-estate in future (Image credit: Apple)

A new Apple Patent released this July features another idea that's so simple, you wonder why no one thought of it before. The filing describes an accessory that would allow two iPads to connect together, allowing one to be used as the display and the other as a keyboard. This sounds like it would be super-useful to creative professionals, providing extra screen real-estate to view and edit their creations properly.

07. Apple Glasses that make any surface a touchscreen

Everyone's been waiting for smart glasses to become the next big thing for about a decade now. But they're still a long way off from being a compelling prospect for the average consumer. 

We're sure Apple will get there eventually, though, and when it does, a new Apple patent suggest one cool thing you'll hopefully be able to do with them. The filing proposes using infrared heat sensing to detect when a user touches a real-world object. And as Apple Insider has suggested, that means literally any surface could be turned into a touchscreen interface. Neat!

We have to be honest, though: this is all pretty vague right now. Apple is keeping very tight-lipped about what its smart glasses will look like and be capable of. So all we have is speculation, and fun concepts based on rumours alone such as the video above, produced by YouTube creator The Hacker 34. (Enjoy, but don't take any of it as gospel!)

08. Bone-conducting Airpods

Apple patents: line drawing of person's head wearing bone-conducting headphones

In future, AirPods could send sound straight to your bones (Image credit: Apple)

We'll leave you with one of the weirdest Apple patents we've seen in a while: for bone conduction headphones that send vibrations through a user's skull. Normal headphones work on conducting the air that then travels into your ear. This filing, however, focuses on transmitting sound directly through the bones in your cranium, such as the jaw bone, cheek bones or nasal bone. Sounds a little unpleasant, but apparently it improves the audio quality significantly. Can't wait to try them!

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Tom May

Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books, Tom was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. Today, he is a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and its sister sites Digital Camera World, and Tech Radar. He also writes for Creative Boom and works on content marketing projects.