One of the biggest irritations with both the iPad and the iPhone is having to plug it in to charge or sync. Second only to that is having to place it in a portrait orientation in a dock. If you want to use your iPhone or iPad any other way around you have to buy an accessory, or prop it up against something.
It hasn’t happened to me yet, in several years, and while owning multiple units of iPhones and iPods, but one day I do expect to break the dock connector some way or other on one of my iOS devices. They have always seemed flimsy to me, despite lasting very well.. so far.
Palm for a long time have had their “Touchstone” induction charging system, which simply needs you to place one of their devices on a charging unit to get power. And it seems that Apple are aiming for something similar with a dock which allows “contact” to be made between a device and its dock in any orientation. As long as an area on the device’s back is resting against the dock’s charing and syncing “connector” pad.
Let’s not forget that Steve Jobs has also said that future iOS devices will allow wireless syncing, so this could further simplify any dock Apple have to make.
Looking through Apple’s patent application they seem to still be looking at some kind of physical connection, but one that is connected by touch alone, rather than by a plug, and most importantly one that is orientation agnostic, and “fuzzy” about the exact position you put the device in. i.e. Your device can be in a landscape or portrait orientation, and doesn’t have to be in exactly the right place to work.
Perhaps in the future Apple could use Induction coils, which would give even more freedom, and be akin to Palm’s Touchstone technology. This may have been one of the patents Apple was interested in when they flirted with buying Palm.
But any dock that allows me to have my device propped up, charing and syncing in either a landscape of portrait orientation (without a physical connector) would be a good starting point for improving the current system we have to use.
Would you like to see touch syncing and an “orientation agnostic” dock in the future? Let us know in the comments.[Patently Apple]