updated 10:20 am EDT, Tue September 11, 2012
'Peek' concept would allow partial use of iPad screen
Apple was won a patent on the magnet technology in the Smart Cover for the iPad, and a so-far unused "peek mode" concept, says AppleInsider. The patent describes a magnetic assembly designed to ensure that the accessory can be easily aligned and attached to a tablet that has its own built-in magnets. More critical to the patent are tablet sensors used to detect the presence of a magnetic field, which in the case of the iPad shut the device on and off when the Smart Cover is lifted or closed.
For a "peek mode," a complete array of sensors would be needed to detect individual panels of a Smart Cover being raised. Only the visible section of an iPad's screen would turn on, and what would be on might show specific information, such as icons for a clock and notes. Under an "extended peek mode," more content and/or functions would be triggered as extra sections of the cover come off.
Apple first filed for the patent in December 2010, just a few months before the launch of the Smart Cover and the iPad 2. The company may have originally intended to implement the feature but abandoned it; the technology would've made the iPad more expensive to manufacture, and would also have required iOS to be further customized.