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Apple Proposes New Multifunction Input Ports, Could Merge SD Card Slot and USB Port

Apple has applied for a patent on a computer port that combines two connectors such as a USB port and a SD card reader according to an application recently published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and noticed by AppleInsider.

The invention, which Apple calls a 'combined input port', adds contact surfaces for multiple different ports. One such example used in the application adds a SD card to the bottom of a standard USB port, with additional cuts to fit the SD card. The combined port could save room on smaller notebooks, and is one potential way for Apple to fit an SD card reader in the 11" MacBook Air.

Usbsd
The foregoing description has broad application. For example, while examples disclosed herein may focus on an input port for receiving a USB plug and a SD card, it should be appreciated that the concepts disclosed herein may equally apply to connectors and plugs. Similarly, although the input port may be discussed with respect to a computer, the devices and techniques disclosed herein are equally applicable to any type of device including an external connector for transferring data and/or power. Accordingly, the discussion of any embodiment is meant only to be an example and is not intended to suggest that the scope of the disclosure, including the claims, is limited to these examples.
The patent was originally applied for in December 2011 and is only now getting published. It has not yet been awarded, however.

Apple routinely applies for patents on inventions that never make it to a final product, but this does seem to have a lot of potential for production. For example, Apple could use it such a combined input port to save space on notebooks, adding an additional USB port to the location where the SD card slot currently is.

The company recently released updated MacBook Air models, though they did not receive a substantial redesign. Apple is expected to release updated MacBook Pro with Retina display models in the near future, and such a combined port could make sense on that device, though there are no guarantees that Apple would ever use it.

Top Rated Comments

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17 months ago

Apple.. Always ahead..


This is innovation people. It's stuff like this that makes Apple shine. Nobody else would have thought of this EXCEPT Apple. It may be a small improvement, but just like the MagSafe, it can change a lot!


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ESATAp

Yeah, it really did not exist before at all, this is really high tech, unimaginably brilliant.

Don't get me wrong, I like Apple, they have a formidable design team and vision, but they aren't the messiah of computing either.

Also, big problem with combining ports is that you can only use one of them at a time, or you'd have to go buy an adapter to use them at the same time. Now there's something Apple surely won't do right ? Creating more adapters at 29 bucks for people to buy :)
Rating: 13 Votes
17 months ago
Very nice engineering, Apple.
Rating: 11 Votes
17 months ago

Cant wait............

Now if we can only use BOTH at the "same time" it would be amazing!

Think about the possibilities:

HDMI w/ SD Card AND

USB3 w/ SD Card AND

TB w/ SD Card

One can dream right lol


Honestly, I don't see much point in this unless you could use them at the same time (which seems improbable). There's not really a problem with dedicated ports, why try to fix it?
Rating: 9 Votes
17 months ago
Insert Phil Schiller quote here.:D
Rating: 9 Votes
17 months ago
Apple.. Always ahead..
Rating: 7 Votes
17 months ago

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ESATAp

Yeah, it really did not exist before at all, this is really high tech, unimaginably brilliant.

Don't get me wrong, I like Apple, they have a formidable design team and vision, but they aren't the messiah of computing either.

Also, big problem with combining ports is that you can only use one of them at a time, or you'd have to go buy an adapter to use them at the same time. Now there's something Apple surely won't do right ? Creating more adapters at 29 bucks for people to buy :)


I was going to post the exact same thing, only scrolled down to see that you already pointed it out.

I've seen many notebooks with such a port.
Rating: 7 Votes
17 months ago

Honestly, I don't see much point in this unless you could use them at the same time (which seems improbable). There's not really a problem with dedicated ports, why try to fix it?


You really need an answer for this?? Why does Apple to half the things they do? To make everything thinner!!!! :apple:
Rating: 6 Votes
17 months ago
Merge the lightning port with an SD card slot for the iPhone/iPad and then we'll talk.

***

Edit:

I have no idea if this is even technically possible. It just seems like it would along the same lines as mentioned in the patent. And yes, I know they make a dongle to handle such things :-)
Rating: 6 Votes
17 months ago
What would be really useful is a single port that combined:

USB (all flavors)
SDCard
iPod30PinConnector
Thunderbolt

This would provide excellent backward compatibility. It's a shame each time they upgrade the connector to have to throw away your external devices (e.g., BMW car).

Apple could do a LOT better at legacy support.
Rating: 5 Votes
17 months ago
I saw a few questions regarding the issue of thickness, i'm pretty certain it will add nothing to the thickness of the default usb port:

Rating: 4 Votes

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