Apple has successfully applied for a patent that suggests it might bring a MagSafe style power connector to iOS devices. Granted alongside 20 other patents, the document describes a movable magnetic coupling that "..may be a power connector such as the MagSafe." and accompanies this with a figure showing a very iPad-looking device.
MagSafe is Apple's proprietary charging connector used on its MacBooks. Rather than a "physical" connection, it uses magnets to couple the cord to the laptop. This means that if the cord gets caught by a passing limb it simply pulls the cable from the laptop, rather than the laptop onto the floor, saving you a potentially costly repair.
As ever, the document treads carefully when it comes to specifics but it strongly suggests this is an invention with practical applications in the here and now, not the distant future. Whether this means a wholesale replacement of the universal iPod dock connector, is impossible to say but considering there's an argument for saying it could do with an upgrade to allow for HD video transport, it wouldn't surprise us, especially given Apple's new enthusiasm for ThunderBolt.
Other patents granted at the same time include ones that secure the designs of Apples original iPod and iPod nano, some of the science behind the manufacture of the multi-touch screen technology that made the original iPhone such a phenomenon, a method for adding cellcular antennas to keyboards of laptops and a lens baffle for iOS devices. Few necessarily show other grandiose signs of things to come but it again highlights how the tech industry is fast becoming as much about intellectual property as the products themselves. Thus, of course, Google's recent purchase of Motorola.
Do you like the idea of MagSafe coming to the iPad or iPhone, and would you welcome a new dock connector? Let us know in the comments.