California-based tech giant Apple has recently filed a patent for a new charging case for its hugely popular AirPods which features a fully interactive display. Spotted by Patently Apple, the US Patent & Trademark Office has granted the patent for Apple’s cases to feature a built-in touchscreen with an interface similar to that used on the Apple Watch.
Useful features and apps, such as Maps, Weather, notifications and music controls, would all be viewable from the case unit. The patent also covers voice commands, so users could switch between applications and functions using Siri.
This isn’t, however, the first time a tech company has launched a smart charging case with user functions built into the unit. That honour goes to JBL, which floated the technology with its Tour PRO 2 wireless earbuds.
There’s no guarantee that Apple will follow through on the project, but having the patent, filed in September 2022, at least allows the company to explore its vision if ultimately deemed worthwhile.
The form the case will take and the role it will play, however, remain up for speculation. The obvious use is as an external companion to a classic music source such as an iPhone or even a HomePod, but there’s a chance Apple could allow for the updated case to be used as a standalone item that, with the basic functionality of an Apple Watch, could simply be used with the AirPods without requiring an alternative source, a bit like an updated reimagining of the old iPod Nano 7.
This, of course, is all speculation. Apple’s patent is still new, meaning that the boffins in California still have twenty years before the patent's term expires. However, the idea of quicker, easier functionality simply by using the charging unit itself does have some appeal. There's certainly a case to be made for it, at the very least.
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