updated 11:43 am EDT, Tue October 2, 2012
Adapter could theoretically solve problems with switch to Lightning
Apple was won a pair of new patents through the US Patent and Trademark Office. The more significant of the two may be Wireless adapter for interfacing between an accessory and a device. AppleInsider notes that the patent is actually a continuation of one from 2008 simply called Adapter, but describes a more modern implementation that would let media players connect to accessories through a special wireless receiver, whether attached directly to the accessory or sitting separately. The adapter could even adjust to incompatibilities with protocols such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
The patent application dates back to September 2011. While many Apple concepts never make it to market, the adapter idea is similar to products already released by third parties, and could solve a major issue caused by Apple's introduction of the Lightning connector format last month. Many people still have accessories based on Apple's old 30-pin format, such as speakers and docks, and a wireless adapter would be more practical in many cases than the direct-connection adapters Apple has so far come up with.
The other new patent is Mouse with improved input mechanisms using touch sensors, and documents aspects of the Apple Mouse/Mighty Mouse and the current Magic Mouse, as well as some older ideas reaching back as far as 2002. The defining trait of the patent is a unibody, clickable top shell which is also touch-sensitive, letting people exercise more control than the shell alone would provide; touching the upper-right corner and clicking at the same time, for instance, would register as a right-click.
Also mentioned are some abandoned feedback mechanisms -- buzzers, haptic units, or even LED lights -- and the pressure-sensitive sides that made their way onto the Apple Mouse. Squeezing the sides of the device would trigger interface options in OS X, such as Dashboard.