With the new iPad Pro, Apple’s arguably the company playing catch-up for once, and it’s easy to look at the jumbo-sized tablet as a direct response to the positive reception Microsoft’s been getting from its recent Surface Pro models. From the sheer size of the tablet, to the matching keyboard, and even to the active stylus, Apple borrows more than one trick from Microsoft’s bag. But for all those similarities, these companies each approach their productivity tablets in slightly different ways (as Microsoft is all too ready to point out). But now a newly published patent application suggests one angle where Microsoft may be thinking about coming over to Apple’s way of doing things, and has us wondering what might be in store for the Surface Pen on Microsoft’s next-gen tablet.
Right now, the Surface Pen is powered by a AAAA battery, which should give users months and months of operation before they need to replace it. The Apple Pencil, on the other hand, is a rechargeable unit, hiding a Lightning connector under its cap.
Microsoft’s patent concerns a method for using a magnetic dock to not just firmly hold a stylus in place on a tablet’s frame, but also to charge the stylus while it’s docked. The system uses rings around the body of the stylus to ensure proper alignment with charging pins.
If you’ve ever thought the Apple Pencil looked a little silly when sticking out of the iPad Pro’s Lightning port while charging (hey look, the iPad Pro’s got an antenna), Microsoft’s patent comes across as a much more elegant solution. There’s no guarantee we’ll see such a thing on the Surface Pro 5, but this is clearly one idea Microsoft’s been thinking about.