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Apple patent application points to an iPhone-powered laptop

The potential product looks like a laptop with an iPhone-sized slot where the touchpad would be.

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Apple may eventually let you find out if an iPhone is all the computer power you need.

A US patent application filed in September and published Thursday points to an accessory that look like a traditional clamshell laptop, but has an iPhone-sized slot instead of a touchpad. The patent suggests the iPhone could potentially handle the processing, as well as the touch input and wireless communication.

The patent application also includes a design in which the screen is replaced with an iPad, similar to designs like the Incipio ClamCase Bluetooth keyboard but with the addition of a touchpad below the keyboard. Apple's current iPad Pro models can be used with an optional keyboard, though they currently lack a touchpad, too.

With tablet sales continuing to shrink, this could extend the usefulness of iPads, such as the one announced earlier this week, particularly for the education market. Apple faces stiff competition in that area, particularly from new Google Chromebooks that feature touchscreens and access to the Google Play app store.