While Apple is constantly touting how they are "changing everything," one thing has been consistent for nine years: the iPod's 30-pin connector. Based on information from a recent patent filing, it looks like Apple may be planning to change that as well.
A recent AppleInsider article highlights a patent filed earlier this year by Apple. It shows a new contact-based charging and syncing solution. Companies like PowerMat have been selling charging systems where simply setting the device down in a certain area will allow it to charge. None of these systems, however, have offered syncing in addition to charging.
While existing devices are based on the iDevice laying flat, Apple's patent shows a dock where the device can be seated upright. One important feature to note in the patent is the device can be docked in both portrait and landscape modes. This is a feature many owners have requested, particularly for the iPad.
There are two possible ways Apple could accomplish this. One way is to place metal contacts on the back of the iDevice to connect with the dock. Obviously, this would be rather ugly and uncharacteristic of Apple given their recent designs. The more likely method is by using inductive coils. This would allow current to pass from the dock to the iDevice without requiring contacts that could corrode or short.
There are some real advantages to this method of connecting. For example, cars could be outfitted with a simple niche in which to put the iDevice. This would allowing for instant charging and access to the iDevice features. Executives could take an iPad from their desk and head to a meeting without worrying about unhooking a cable or releasing it from a dock. Apple could also include the option to add additional signal connections for new peripherals or options like HDMI-out.
While this change would make existing iDevice accessories and cables useless, the ability to have a new, more elegant system may be worth the pain of buying all new accessories. What do you think? Are you ready to say goodbye to your little, white cable?