What Apple patents say about future iPads
Many of the patents listed above can relate to the iPad too, including the upcoming iPad Air 3. There are some patents in Apple's portfolio that seem particularly suited to tablets, though.
Apple iPad patents: Advanced Sensor UI & the 'pull' gesture
Apple seems keen to replace, or at least augment touch screen technology with advanced hand sensing. This will detect hand movements surrounding the device.
Patent 8,514,221 shows that Apple isn’t just looking to patent the physical system, but gestures as well. One gesture that is looking to join pinch to zoom, swipe and tap, could be the 'pull' gesture. This is where you have your fingers on the screen, and then move them up and away, pulling an object from the screen. What feature this gesture could implement is still in the secret lab, but it will enable an interesting new level of interaction with iOS.
Apple iPad patents: Vibrate feature
Future iPads could have the vibrate feature built in thanks to an audio codec chip that could allow the iPad to set up vibration alerts for notifications like we can for the iPhone.
What Apple patents say about the future of iOS
Apple iOS patents: Scheduled text messages
Are you worried that your daughter will forget to buy eggs on her way home? You could text her a reminder now, but that could get forgotten too; it would really useful, in that situation, for her to receive the message the moment she passes the shop. Apparently, Apple is working on it.
A patent granted in 2015 reveals that the Cupertino company is trying to devise a messaging system that would let you schedule your text depending on place, time and weather.
Do you want to wish your partner good morning but you're away from home? The scheduled message system would send your text to your partner as soon as they wake up.
Apple iOS patents: Maps that avoid routes with poor cellular signal
In March 2015, Apple was granted a patent that would make the life of car travellers much easier.
How many times have you ended up following a route into an area with weak signal, then promptly got lost because your GPS stopped working?
Apple is devising a method whereby GPS software can take account of signal strength data when planning a journey. The route you end up with may be longer, but better late than lost.
The technology would measure cellular data signal, taking into account the location of cellular towers and even physical features such as hills. iPhones would also share cellular data signal with Apple. An algorithm would take this information into account and choose a better route for your journey.
Apple iOS patents: Clearer contacts in Messages app
Apple hopes to help prevent those embarrassing misdirected text messages with this next patent, which suggests that we could soon see our friends' faces as the background to our conversations in the Messages app.
Apple describes an invention that simply uses the contact's picture as the background image for conversations with that contact. When there's more than one person in a conversation, Apple adds text and multiple images to the conversation.
Apple iOS patents: Driver lock-out
Apple has been granted a patent that relates to the dangerous activity of texting while driving. Apple has invented a lock-out mechanism for drivers, which would prevent drivers from being able to text while behind the wheel.
One embodiment of Apple's invention uses a motion analyser, a scenery analyser and a lock-out mechanism to determine how fast the device is moving (indicating that it's in a car) and where the holder of the device is located (driver's seat or passenger seat). If the device then determines that the holder of the device is also the driver of a vehicle, the lock-out mechanism will disable some functions of the phone, such as the messages app.
Other embodiments involve slight modification of the vehicle itself to send out signals to tell the device to lock-out, which could hint that the technology may come with a future version of CarPlay.
Apple's "Auto-station tuning" patent suggests Apple is looking into the ability to automatically switch between radio stations and TV stations depending on user preferences. This could be used to for iOS devices, but it's possible we could see this technology used in the Apple TV, too.
Apple iOS patents: Transparent text messages
Apple could be planning to introduce transparent text messages with future iPhones or iOS iterations, according to a patent filed in late March 2014.
The system revolves around the background of an application being modified to display a live feed of whatever the rear camera is looking at – creating an effect like the iPhone itself (or at least the portion covered by the screen) is transparent.
The system can be activated via a button inside the app button which then transforms the interface from the regular background to a live video version.
Apple iOS patents: Battery-saving mode
Several of Apple's competitors have already got a battery-saving mode in their devices, but Apple has yet to introduce such feature in iOS. However, that could soon change if patents published in March 2014 are anything to go by.
Apple appears to be investigating a way to save iPhone battery power by learning the user's behaviour. Its patents describe a system that can learn patterns in behaviour to figure out when the user is less likely to be using their device, during which time it can automatically reduce performance and disable some features, for example.
Update, 20 August 2015: We now know that there is a power-saving mode in iOS 9.
Apple iOS patents: Age-monitoring
As gadgets age, the performance of those gadgets worsens. Apple has acknowledged this in a patent issued in March that aims to help the aging process of a device happen slower, by monitoring the condition of the device and modifying parameters to maximise its performance, battery efficiency and user experience. The aim is to help the device meet its life expectancy.
Continue to page 3 to find out what Apple patents say about the Apple Watch 2 and future Macs.