Patent report: Apple Pencil/Mac touch screen combo, media playback syncing

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: 

A future version of the Apple Pencil could work with a Mac trackpad, per a patent filing (number 20160139690) for a “stylus with inertial sensor” (but don’t call the Apple Pencil a stylus!). In the patent filing Apple says it can be challenging for a user to interact with electronic equipment using a computer stylus. 

A user may want to use an alternative input device such as a computer mouse or joystick when performing certain types of tasks. If care is not taken, Apple says a user's system may become cluttered with a number of potentially conflicting input devices so it would be “desirable to provide improved computer styluses for providing input to electronic equipment.”

Most of the invention’s description could easily refer to the iPad Pro. However, several of the patent illustrations (including the one shown) certainly show a Mac life device — and one with a touch screen. Could this hint at a “MacPad," which I’ve long wanted? Probably not, but I can dream.

Moving on, Apple has been granted a patent (number 20160142988) for “methods and apparatus for synchronization of media playback within a wireless network.” In other words, Apple wants to make music and movie playback “move” more seamlessly between your Mac, iOS, and Apple TV devices.

Here’s the (somewhat tech-speak heavy) summary of the invention: “Methods and apparatus for synchronization of media playback within a wireless network. In one embodiment, the present disclosure is directed to precision synchronization over time, based on repeated measurements of a common time reference. In one exemplary embodiment, the common time reference is a Time Synchronization Function (TSF) of a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN). In another exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure, the application processor and the modem processor measure a pulse width and the aforementioned common time reference in order to adjust media playback.”