iPad magnetic accessories patent could pave the way for Nintendo Switch-style controllers

iPad Pro 12.9-inch on a desk with a wireless mouse and Apple Magic Keyboard attached
(Image credit: Future/Lloyd Coombes)

The current lineup of iPads feature powerful chips, excellent battery life, and gorgeous displays — but it looks like they could get even better.

A new patent from Apple shows off a tablet with “a magnetic attachment mechanism positioned along the interior surface opposite the stylus attachment region.” This means either side of future iPads could have magnetic surfaces  — one to hold the Apple Pencil 2 and charge it wirelessly like just now, and one to attach to other accessories. 

One of the uses detailed in the patent is a keyboard that could essentially click into place. Not even the best iPad Air 5 keyboard cases are quite as sophisticated as that. The smart connector seen in Apple’s Smart Keyboard is similar but only one-sided and it doesn’t clip in the way seen in the patent. There aren’t clear examples of controllers being used in the patent, though accessories are mentioned — perhaps we could see a future Magic Keyboard update with a stronger magnetic clip.

Untapped potential

This is an invention that could make future tablets the best iPad for gaming, thanks to the potential of clipping controllers onto the side. It could take inspiration from the Nintendo Switch, Lenovo Legion Go, or OneXPlayer 2 Pro and allow you to disconnect and connect controllers on the sides of the device when needed. When paired with the best Apple Arcade games, this could make the iPad even better than the best MacBooks for how easy it is to game on the go. 

It is important to note, that this is just a patent — an idea for a future feature that Apple might use later on down the line.

Given the Apple Vision Pro’s trademark woes in China, Apple may be more cautious of losing out on its ideas in the future. As is the case with all patents, we’ll have to wait for the future to find out more.

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James Bentley

James is a staff writer and general Jack of all trades at iMore. With news, features, reviews, and guides under his belt, he has always liked Apple for its unique branding and distinctive style. Originally buying a Macbook for music and video production, he has since gone on to join the Apple ecosystem with as many devices as he can fit on his person. 

With a degree in Law and Media and being a little too young to move onto the next step of his law career, James started writing from his bedroom about games, movies, tech, and anything else he could think of. Within months, this turned into a fully-fledged career as a freelance journalist. Before joining iMore, he was a staff writer at Gfinity and saw himself published at sites like TechRadar, NME, and Eurogamer. 

As his extensive portfolio implies, James was predominantly a games journalist before joining iMore and brings with him a unique perspective on Apple itself. When not working, he is trying to catch up with the movies and albums of the year, as well as finally finishing the Yakuza series. If you like Midwest emo music or pretentious indie games that will make you cry, he’ll talk your ear off.