Imagine a cover for your iPad that would notify you of incoming emails, text messages, and other items. That's just what Apple is thinking about, according to a freshly-published patent filing.
Published on Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, a patent filing called "Integrated visual notification system in an accessory device" points to a cover or protector for your screen that would either display information or allow information from the tablet to shine through.
The goal of the current crop of tablet covers from Apple and other vendors is to protect your device's screen. But fiddling with Apple's Smart Cover and similar products to constantly open and close them can prove annoying. Apple's envisioned cover would still provide the necessary screen protection but also serve up alerts and notifications, reducing the need to constantly open and close it. And there is precedent here since certain smartphone cases on the market can already display visual information.
In one scenario, the tablet cover would display visual notifications alerting you to incoming emails, text messages, and other information. Light emitting diodes or other illumination elements would be embedded into the flexible flap of the cover to display the information. You could also control the level of illumination through your tablet.
"In some cases the illumination states can be human readable," according to Apple. "For example, the illumination elements can form recognizable words or symbols. In other cases a series of lights can be understood by a user to signify a specific operating state."
In another scenario, parts of the cover's flexible flap would be translucent, allowing light to shine through from the tablet. In this case, your tablet itself would display the alerts or other information, which would be visible to you through the translucent portions.
As always, a patent filing doesn't mean the invention will reach us in the real world. But if certain smartphone case makers can make a case that displays information, then Apple may not be too far behind.