Patent report: an iPhone case with a built-in audio jack, remote control of your iOS device’s camera

Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product, so here are today’s patent highlights:

If Apple does indeed phase out the headphone jack on upcoming iPhones, it could offer an iPhone case with a built-in audio jack. Personally, I don’t think it will, but the company has been granted a patent (number 9,326,391) for a “combined audio jack and mobile device enclosure.” 

In the patent filing, Apple says that as electronic devices continue to become smaller, there’s limited space within their enclosures. The company says there’s a need to provide enclosures having smaller internal components such as audio jacks. 

Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “Enclosures for electronic devices are provided. These enclosures can be integrally formed with a full or partial receptacle connector shell for receiving electrical connectors such as audio connectors or plugs. For example, an enclosure made from a polymer can be integrally formed with an audio jack shell in an injection molding process. As another example, an enclosure can be integrally formed with one or more full or partial walls of an audio jack shell to form a single piece of polymer or metal and the remaining walls of the audio jack shell can be overmolded or assembled to the polymer or metal walls of the audio jack and proximate portions of the enclosure to form a full or complete audio jack shell.”

Apple has also been granted a patent (number 9,325,892) for “systems and methods for remote camera control” — the camera being the one on an iPhone or iPad. The invention involves a camera capable of capturing still images and video and included in an iOS device that can be controlled remotely using an accessory.

The accessory can register with the iPhone or iPad to automatically receive notifications whenever there is a change in the camera state. The camera states can include mode, operation status, and configuration settings. The accessory can send instructions to a camera application that interfaces with the camera to control the camera. 

The accessory can remotely activate the camera, change camera mode, and send instructions to operate the camera. The accessory and the iOS device can concurrently control the camera. The iPhone or iPad can send the captured still images and recorded video to the accessory for preview and receive instructions from the accessory on disposition of the still images and the video.