Patent report: stain proof Smart Keyboard, waterproof iPhones

The Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro is already pretty durable, but Apple wants to make it even more appealing. The company has been granted a patent (number 9,527,263) for a “stain proof textured fabric.” 

The stain resistant layer can be formed from a non-conventional anti-stain resistant resin that can conform to varying texturing geometries. In one embodiment, the stain resistant layer can be formed against a sheet of release paper having a texturing surface configured to form a textured surface on the stain resistant layer. Apple’s goal is to “add a stain proof resin layer to a plastic cosmetic surface without adversely affecting a cosmetic look and feel of the surface.”

Apple has also been granted a patent (number 9,529,391) for “button retention, assembly, and water sealing,” which indicates it’s looking toward waterproof, as opposed to water resistant, iPhones. 

According to the patent, a sealed physical button for use with a portable electronic device effectively presents ingress of liquids. Embodiments include a button cap having flange portions that interlock with complementary flanges from a button retainer. The button cap may also include a downward oriented central post, proportioned and oriented to interface with the top surface of a button attached to a bracket. 

The button retainer may include an aperture sized and positioned to receive the central post of the button cap. The button retainer may rest on a shelf within the electronic device housing such that the shelf interposes the bracket and the retainer to form a rigid seal.

Finally, Apple has been granted a patent (number 9,k530,316) for an “user interface tools for commute assistant.” It involves the Maps app for iOS and macOS devices. 

According to the patent, the commute app receives a selection of a route from several different routes. Each route in the several different routes includes several stops. In response, the commute app also provides a dynamic focus table that includes a first portion for displaying a schedule of stops along the selected route and a second portion for displaying metadata regarding the selected route. The metadata presented in the second portion is automatically updated whenever a different schedule of stops is displayed in the first portion of the dynamic focus table.

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.