A new Apple patent application published by the USPTO today describes a magnetic connector not unlike the one used to attach Smart Covers to the current iPad, but designed to be far more flexible with a variety of possible accessory combinations. It’s a smart connector system that could recognize the attached peripheral and change functionality accordingly.
The types of peripherals described in the patent are many and varied, and include things like speaker docks, trackpads and keyboards, drawing tablets, radio wave antennas, cameras, game controllers and card readers. There’s also a provision which describes how two iPads might be linked together via an intermediary magnetic hinge dock that connects to the smart magnetic link in each.
It could work either with basic magnets, or with electromagnets that can be turned on or off using controls built into iOS, according to the filing, which would allow you to theoretically ‘lock’ accessories in place, including docks that simply stand the iPad up or hold it on a positionable mount for different viewing angles.