back to article Apple preps adaptable gadget adapter

Apple has filed a patent application for a gadget dock that conforms to the shape and size of whatever you plop upon it. The filing, self-confidently entitled "Aesthetically pleasing universal dock," describes a desktop charging and connectivity adapter that's constructed in such a way as to modify its grip to accommodate …

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  1. dave 93

    or switch to a 'standard' connector?

    I thought that the EU had a rule about proprietary phone connectors now? mini & micro USB would be easier to deal with, no?

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Joke

      A standard connector?

      "We are the iBorg. Resistance is not aesthetically pleasing."

    2. D@v3

      The problem isnt with connectors

      All apple iPodWhatevers use the same connector, but have a different foot print. Changind the connector to fix this problem would just mean that you have more devices that don't fit into the one stand properly and would therefore need even more of those easily losable little plastic bits.

      A combination of the two (standard connector /and/ morphing adapter) might be a nice idea.

    3. Paul 4

      Nope

      Just some makers have got together and agreed that if they were to use a standard it would be a mini usb.

    4. Owain 1
      Thumb Down

      missed point

      I believe that the article is about a holder to take the weight of the device, not to actually connect to it. Presumably a micro USB socket cannot reasonably support the weight of a device without breaking after the 100th plug/unplug.

      Personally I employ a small trained monkey to bear the weight of my mobile devices.

    5. mccp

      It's not the connector.

      All iPods and iPhones use the same connector, it's because of differences in the shape of the devices that the dock adapter is required.

    6. Thomas Davie
      Thumb Up

      Yes, but also no.

      Apple's dock connector does a lot more than just charge and transfer data. It also transfers audio, control signals from remotes (e.g. on car steering wheels), video, and a few other things if I'm not mistaken. Apple's best bet for complying with that particular law is probably to put a mini USB port on the bottom *as well* as the dock connector.

      1. Nexox Enigma

        Err...

        """It also transfers audio, control signals from remotes (e.g. on car steering wheels), video, and a few other things if I'm not mistaken. """

        What's to stop them sending all of that data over usb, like everyone else?

        """Apple's dock connector does a lot more than just charge and transfer data."""

        Ah, right, so video, audio, and control signals aren't data! Silly me!

    7. h 6
      FAIL

      duh

      The wire parts are universal across ipods/phones.

      It's the SHAPE of the devices which are different.

      Duh.

  2. John Riddoch

    @ dave 93

    There was never a /rule/ about connectors. The phone companies got together and finally decided to agree on a universal connector rather than spread the abundance of different connectors where even two phones by the same company didn't have the same connector (e.g. Samsung U600 & U900). There's nothing stopping Apple adopting the same standard, although it would make a mess of the iPod add-on market which has largely relied on the connector for iPods being fairly static.

    Motorola have a head start on this, my work phone charges up over a standard USB connector which is the same cable that Nikon ship with their SLRs; saved me a load of hassle when I forgot to bring the cable home...

  3. richard 69
    Thumb Up

    a bit like...

    those silver spiky gadgets that you push your hand into to make a handprint....found in most gadget shops.....it adapts to whatever is pushed into it...royalties please...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    So...

    Like all apple goods the main thing is that it looks good?

    1. Greg J Preece

      I'm starting to see similar

      My phone, BT headphones and several other devices now all charge (or trickle charge) from USB. If someone could just convince Cowon that they don't need to have stupid proprietary connectors on their otherwise excellent devices, I'd only have to carry one cable for anything, ever!

    2. Al Jones

      Not entirely voluntary

      I seem to recall that the Chinese government made their preference for a single connector known, and the EU were making noises about the issue too.

      So while there may not have been regulations actually put in place, the device manufacturers were nudged in the right direction.

  5. Richard 12 Silver badge

    @dave 93

    It's not about the connector - it's an automatic, aesthetically-pleasing, form-fitting 'slot' around said connector.

    Which will of course remain proprietary and cost millions for a licence to use.

  6. qwertyuiop
    Troll

    Easily beaten patent!

    Let's assume Apple get this patent awarded. It has to be the easiest one ever to exploit without fear of legal action - if I design a "universal dock" which works in exactly the same way but is styled to be brute ugly Apple can't touch me. After all, their patent is for an "aesthetically pleasing" one!

  7. Elmer Phud Silver badge
    Coat

    Mighty Morphin' Power Arrangers?

    title --

    Coat

  8. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    OK, so they patented .. a sponge?

    All you need is a sponge in the right shape, or one of those slow deforming gels. Surely there is a degree of obviousness here..

  9. Alex Walsh
    Joke

    Gently Grasping Bottoms

    Surely you don't need a patent for this? I've been doing it for years!

  10. Matt Bucknall
    Coat

    Hardly patentable

    USB cable + blob of blu-tack. Job done.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Over-engineered American grot

    "I believe that the use of a piece of Blu-Tack, about the size of a runner bean, will resolve the problem."

  12. Mark Stanbrook
    FAIL

    You what?

    Surely you can't patent a sponge?

  13. Ivan Headache

    Isn't the 'agreement'

    about the charging connector - so that one simple connector can charge every phone (except the iPhone that is) - NOT about a data connection.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perfect adaptor

    I have a new invention which will change the way we think about plugging things into things while supporting their weight and keeping them in places.

    Put the iPod in a hole upside down and attach the connector from above via a wire.

  15. Al Jones
    Thumb Down

    Whatever happened to "obvious to one skilled in the art"

    So this patent application doesn't actually propose a solution to a specific problem, it just offers some general "wouldn't it be cool if" type, non-specific handwaving?

    Most of the readers of the Reg are "skilled in the art" of non-specific hand-waving, and this is pretty obvious to them, so until Apple actually make a working model, they should be told to bugger off.

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