Published yesterday at the US Patent and trademark Office is a new patent awarded to Apple, Inc. for a hybrid dock connector that will work with both DisplayPort (Thunderbolt) and USB 3.0. Patently Apple seems to think this new connection could make its way into Apple devices before the end of the year, or, more likely, sometime next year when USB 3.0 may also make its way onto a Mac. The cool thing about this connection is that it can work with both DisplayPort and USB 3.0, meaning Apple will be supporting both connections in the years to come.
What’s so great about Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 is that they are both high-speed connections. That means less time spent syncing and more time using. How great would it be to update apps, sync new music and videos in seconds instead of minutes? It’d be even better to be able to do it wirelessly, but hey, this is still progress. The new dock connection can also be reduced in size, but it’s not clear whether it will actually end up being smaller than the current dock connector. It seems like it might be a good idea for Apple to retain some backwards compatibility here, especially when the current connection isn’t exactly clunky.
Included with this report from Patently Apple are some other patents that Apple was awarded. They have a patent for a .Mac RSS reader, and the original MacBook Air. That should tell you something about how long getting a patent can take. These were filed between 2007 and 2009. Also mentioned in one of these is Apple’s intention to explore Fiber Optics and their possible inclusion on a future MagSafe connection. Interesting.
What I find most intriguing about this report is that Apple has clearly been considering DisplayPort, or Thunderbolt, for some time now. They filed the hybrid dock connector patent at the end of 2009, which no doubt was not the first time they thought about using DisplayPort as an iPhone connection. A year and a half later, MacBook Pros now come with Thunderbolt connections. How long until Macs have USB 3.0? I’d say no more than a year, but we’ll just have to wait and see. The key is, it’s coming.
Read [Patently Apple]