Apple continues to be a steamroller of a company, receiving multiple patents at a time, in this case 59 of them. The US Patent and Trademark Office awarded them to the Cupertino firm and they cover a variety of potential products, ranging from foldable devices to devices with side screens and case protections.
Among them we find a patent for iDevices with side screens. Those may well be the start of a buttonless phone or tablet, that only relies on the touch side areas. The other more interesting patent is related to foldable or flexible devices. This was covered by Patently Apple as long ago as 2013, so it has quite a bit of history, the original invention at least.
Interestingly, Apple originally filed for the invention in Europe. Judging by the patent sketches, we are getting either a flexible housing or a flexible display, but also multi foldable regions, that involve hinges and elastomers. Rumors have talked about a foldable iPhone coming in maybe 2020 or 2021.
Another patent has to do with “active surface protection for portable electronic devices”. From what I can see, it has to do with buffed up corners that prevent damage when the device falls on a surface. Similar ideas have been used by Sony for its phones.
There was also an inductive wireless charging dock patent for the iPhone, but seeing how the AirPower failed and died, that feels just odd right now. Nice to see Apple still pushing ahead with foldables and flexible devices though.