The United States Patent and Trademark Office published three new Apple patents relating to Thunderbolt today. While there is substantial worry over what Apple’s patents mean for the open availability of Thunderbolt, that isn’t the most interesting aspect of this news. Apparently, Apple thought it was prudent to put in wording that discusses portable media players.
According to Patently Apple:[quote]Before going into the details of this main patent in their series of three, it should be noted that Apple states in their secondary patent application that “the present invention, connection may also be a new type of connection.” For example, “a connection may be provided between a portable media player and a display, a computer and a portable media player, or between other types of devices.”[/quote]
Obviously, this doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going to see Thunderbolt-compatible iOS devices right away, but it does show a glimmer of hope. Like serial ports and parallel ports before it, USB 2.0 and FireWire 800 are on their way out. While many vanilla PCs have embraced USB 3.0, Apple is betting heavily on Thunderbolt. Not only do all Macs (Except the outdated Mac Pro, apparently) ship with Thunderbolt ports, but these patents show that Apple is spending engineering resources on the technology as well.
If Apple does implement Thunderbolt into iOS, we’re looking at syncing speeds that are significantly faster. Provided the SSDs inside of iPhones and iPad are fast enough, we could see a 20x jump in speed compared to USB 2.0. That would be pretty incredible. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.