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Apple may boost the iPad’s e-reader cred by adding e-Ink
by Kathryn Robbins on April 10, 2011
One of the reasons that people are attracted to the iPad is its stunning design; grown men are turned into blubbering messes in stores just at the sight of the shiny tablet. While that may attract some customers, it also turns off those that are used to an e-reader with an e-Ink display like the Kindle. Apple may grab a whole new section of the e-reader market with their idea to piggyback an e-Ink display on the white-hot tablet.
The Kindle may not be as colorful and multimedia friendly as the iPad, but is does have the advantage of e-Ink’s screen technology. It’s easy on the eyes and the screen can be read anywhere from your living room to a sunny day at the beach. Amazon has certainly zeroed in on this fact and even mocked the backlit iPad in a poolside TV spot. According to a new study by Google AdMob, tablet owners are using their computers much more for gaming and checking e-mail than reading e-books. Just 46% of the respondents used it as an e-reader while 84% used it for gaming and 74% for email.
Patently Apple managed to snag the application that was recently made public by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. According to the document called “Systems and Methods for Switching Between an Electronic Paper Display and a Video Display,” Apple will outfit an iOS device with the ability to toggle between an e-Ink display for e-books and a video display for multimedia and other tasks.
The iPad or iPhone would detect the content that the user wants to see and will use the video screen for apps like YouTube and switch over to e-Ink when you use iBooks or even the Kindle app. Since the e-Ink and video screens would be sandwiched underneath the touchscreen, Apple also hints that the iPad could display e-Ink and multimedia based content in different quadrants of the screen. One major advantage of having an e-Ink display added to an iOS device is battery power; getting through a few chapters of a book can suck the life out of the battery due the backlit nature of the device.
The possible addition of an e-Ink screen is just another way to consolidate your gadgets. In the past people had to carry a cell phone, a PDA such as a Handspring, and a GPS system. Smart phones and tablets have changed the game since they combine all of these features on one device and you don’t need to be confronted by three different chargers at the end of your day.
Of course, Apple hasn’t said a word about this patent that they filed back in the fourth quarter of 2009. Fanboys and fangirls will just have to wait for another “secret” announcement from the company or until a tipsy Apple engineer accidentally leaves one at their favorite watering hole like the iPhone 4.