Apple Patent App Wants to Improve "Underutilized" Device Clips

Apple has applied for a patent to turn “underutilized” mobile device clips into functional accessories. The patent, titled “Removable Clip With User Interface” describes removable device clips that act as alternative interfaces for a mobile device, complete with physical buttons, in addition to their standard role in attaching a device to a user’s clothing.

Apple Clip Patent

Various types of clips are provided today with portable electronic computing devices such as media players (e.g., music player or video player). The clips today typically serve only one function, which is to clip the device to various objects such as a person's clothing...

While today's clips provide a valuable function for portable electronic computing devices, they are deficient in that the real estate used by the clips is underutilized in that the clips are only used to attach electronic computing devices to other objects. Such underutilization is particularly undesirable as technology continues to miniaturize since even the smallest amount of real estate used by a device is often considered burdensome by a consumer.

Apple Clip Patent Application

The patent application describes multiple scenarios, including clips that contain the primary user interface with physical buttons, clips that act as a secondary interface to the primary interface on the device itself, and clips that enhance a primary user interface by providing additional functionality and context through the use of transparent buttons.

Such a design would allow Apple to keep both large touch screens and physical buttons available on future generations of iDevices as they continue to shrink with each revision.

The patent application was filed July 11, 2011 before being published today. It lists Fletcher R. Rothkopf and Teodor Dabov as inventors