updated 12:50 pm EST, Thu November 17, 2011
Patent applications show possible tech directions
Two newly-published Apple patent applications may suggest future plans for iOS devices. One of these details several methods of making the glass on hardware more drop-proof. A device could, for instance, use a shock mount made with foam, gel, polymer and/or other materials, sandwiched in between the glass and the rest of the unit. Apple notes that such a mount could also double as a water seal. A more complex option might involve a "liquid based micro inflatable bladder," functioning like an airbag.
A possible approach without mounts involves a "mechanically actuated retractable," which would permit glass to withdraw into housing if a drop was detected. On a more direct level Apple suggests just strengthening glass, using chemicals in replacement of or in addition to Gorilla Glass, such as borosilicate glass and sodalime. While Apple initially touted the use of Gorilla Glass on the iPhone 4, one of the common complaints about the 4 and the 4S has been that the phones' glass backs are too prone to shattering under hard impacts.
The other Apple application, Multi-output power supply, describes an adapter that would support multiple devices with different power requirements. A person could, for instance, hook up a MacBook and an iPod simultaneously, since a DC-to-DC converter would adjust voltage as necessary. Such an adapter would eliminate the need to carry separate adapters for each device, Apple remarks, as well as confusion when remembering which one to use.