Apple has a new patent, granted today by the USPTO, that details how wireless devices like iPhones and iPads might become context-specific remote input gadgets for use with creative desktop apps like Final Cut Pro, Logic or even Photoshop. Using the tech described, your iPhone 6 Plus could become a touch-screen video scrubber for editing movies, for example, and then easily switch to a color-correction panel or audio mixer the next minute depending on your needs.
In the patent, Apple describes how a user would be able to use their desktop software to set the type of remote that would appear on their device, and then describes how the app on your Mac would then receive commands based on what you do on the remote iPhone, iPad or other wireless device. Some examples include changing the interface for using a connected mobile device as a controller for real instrument audio recording, and then switching it to a MIDI-style virtual instrument input device.
Other companies have tried similar things – Adobe released some companion mobile apps for its creative suite software that allow users to do things like refine their editing tools or manipulate working color palettes, for instance.
Apple’s patent is for a more far-reaching, flexible platform that could work across a range of different situations, however, and while it might not hold that much broad appeal, it’s definitely something that could add value to the ownership of iOS devices for the creative professional audience that already embraces Mac hardware.
The patent was first filed in April 2010, so it’s been on the shelf for quite a while now, but it’s still an interesting use case to consider, especially as Apple likely continues to reevaluate the place of the iPad in its overall lineup, and possibly prepares for the launch of a larger, more powerful iPad Pro later this year, should rumors prove correct.