Recent Apple patent news has a particularly neat teaser for all of us iPad users: the ability to link two different iPads together and have them work as one.
This could be a great boon to those who frequently use their iPad Pros at work, or who have iPads as part of a larger computer setup. The patent may even allow similar interactions between an iPad and an iPhone! But what would this connection actually do?
The patent makes room for several possibilities, which have us convinced that this could be a very good idea. Let’s take a look at how it could work.
Expanding Your Screen Across Both iPads
Is one iPad not big enough? No problem – partner another iPad with it, and keep on working. In this setup, you would arrange two iPads next to each other and use a mode that expands your screen across both of them, just as you might link two different monitors together to get more screen real estate.
Traditionally, expanding a screen like this is a great option for designers, programmers, gamers, big research projects, and similar tasks: We’d like to see if iPads could fulfill similar roles. It’s also a natural evolution of Apple’s Sidecar technology, which wirelessly links an iPad to a MacBook for sketching and similar activities. The patent’s language also suggests that any iPads connected in such a manner would be able to exchange any data necessary, and maybe even hardware resources like memory.
Using Two iPads Together Like a Book
This is similar to using two iPads as one larger display, except now you are holding the iPads vertically like a very large book. Perhaps this could just be an alternative way of using the iPads as a dual-screen. “Foldable” phones and computers have become a popular concept, although difficult in practice, and this could be Apple’s option for giving iPads foldable functionality without actually creating a folding screen. Or maybe it really could function like a big digital book, ideal for reading interactive children’s stories, magazines, or graphic novels.
Using One iPad as a Keyboard
Another option shown is using one iPad – or potentially an iPhone – as your primary display, and the second iPad as a digital keyboard for typing. This option is stranger, but it would allow users to avoid using an attachable keyboard and instead just putting another iPad down on the table and linking up, providing more screen space by shifting the digital keyboard down to the lower screen.
While the patent shows two equal-sized devices in its example, this seems like an option best suited for people who are carrying around both an iPad and an iPhone, but find a need to do some serious typing on their iPhone conversations. Not as interesting, but we’re willing to be convinced.
If you check out the patent images, they all focus on a hinge-like device that seems made to connect two iPads firmly together in a variety of configurations. If this little idea sees the light of day (probably not this fall), then this hinge would likely be the primary investment, while iOS and hardware updates would take care of the rest (other verbiage indicates that proximity sensors could also link the screen in some cases).
That means that getting the hinge/stand could allow you to use your iPads in any of the configurations we mentioned, depending on what you are working on. That makes this patent much more feasible as a marketable idea, and we like the focus on a single, enabling device. Apple just has to decide which ports its iPads are going to use, since currently smaller iPads are stuck with the Lightning connector, while iPad Pros use USB-C.