Apple is rather well-known for adding features to the operating system by stealing them from smaller developers. If a new, recently-discovered patent by Apple is any indication, such may be the case once again.
The patent for a “System with Multiple Electronic Devices” describes how putting two iPhones next to each other can activate a tiled display feature, which allows the two devices to work together as one.
The abstract for the patent describes it as such:
Multiple electronic devices may be used together in a system. The electronic devices may use sensor measurements and other information to detect when an edge of a first electronic device is adjacent to an edge of a second electronic device. In response to detection of adjacency between the edges of the first and second devices, the devices may transition from an independent operating mode in which each device operates separately to a joint operating mode in which resources of the devices are shared. In the joint operating mode, images may extend across displays in the devices, speakers in the devices may be used to play different channels of an audio track, cameras and other sensors may be used in cooperation with each other, and other resources may be shared. Magnetic components may hold devices together in a variety of orientations.
The patent suggests that the two devices may be held together by specially spaced magnets, and also suggests that special cases may be used to allow the two devices to be positioned in various laptop-like configurations.
The technology bears a striking resemblance to an application first shown off in 2013 by a company called Mosaic, which allowed a similar feature which, of course, never really caught on.
Of course, patents only suggest that some thought as gone into an idea but does not guarantee that the feature will come to market. However, with Apple lacking a real response so far to the folding phone phenomenon, it seems that the company may address this issue with this halfway house.
The full patent can be read here.