Forward-looking: A newly released Apple patent could give us an idea of future iPad designs. It suggests the company is acknowledging that many people prefer to use the tablets in landscape mode, and we could see the divisive notch make its way to the devices.
The patent, which was filed in August 2016 and spotted by Patently Apple, was recently published by the USPTO. It shows an “Electronic device display with extended active area.” As you can see, the iPad has been designed with landscape use in mind, placing the front-facing camera in a horizontal bezel.
Apple writes that “The inactive area may have a layer of black ink or other masking material to block internal components from view. The active area may have an opening or notch that contains an isolated inactive area region (hidden in bezel) or may contain a notch or other recess into which a portion of the inactive area protrudes.”
With Apple still pushing the iPad as a laptop replacement, moving the company logo and camera from a portrait to landscape orientation does make sense, especially with the upcoming new Magic Keyboard making landscape mode the better option for users.
The change also means people won’t accidentally cover the camera with their hand when holding an iPad in landscape, which can be especially annoying when using Face ID to unlock the device.
Adding a notch, however, isn’t likely to be met with universal appreciation. While it was the now-defunct Essential that first used a cutout on its handset, the notch became popular with phone makers—less so among consumers—after it appeared in the iPhone X. But as with all patents, there's no guarantee this will become an actual product.