forbes, a dongle and an apple patent application


... '310 application discloses a MagSafe-to-USB dongle with a safety circuit therein ... had Apple wanted to release a related product it would likely be on the market by now

It all seemed innocuous enough at first.  An Apple patent application depicted a potential product in its Figures and the bloggers began typing.  An article in Forbes caught my attention.  The patent application supports the appearance of a MagSafe-to-USB dongle.  That was the working hypothesis.  I will explore the technology outlined in the application a bit, consider Forbes’ hypothesis and think about the possible realization of this dongle.

US2017/009310 a.k.a. Magnetic Adapter a.k.a. the ‘310 application

Apple’s ‘310 application is pretty straightforward.  Figures 2 and 4 from it are reproduced below for reference.  It discloses a dongle 200 that receives a so-called MagSafe power connector on one side 210 and has a USB-C connector 250 on the other side.  Several magnets (520 of Figure 5) are contained within the dongle for the magnetic connection.  Figure 4 illustrates the wiring between the two ends of the dongle 200.  As disclosed at paragraph [0032] there is some circuitry between the two connectors.  It is simple, but it is there.  This circuitry is described as a safety feature, whereby it prevents current from passing if the output end i.e. USB-C end 250 of the connector 200 is not attached to a device i.e. a load.

what about the Forbes article?

The Forbes article presents some basic information about the ‘310 patent application.  One quote from the Discussion is standard alternate embodiments language.  It is not overly significant.  The article does not, for example, touch on the circuitry between the two connectors of the dongle.  That said, there seems to be more peripheral information than technical information.  We are given some history of MagSafe, the move to USB-C and some employment history of the inventors.

patent v. product

The ‘310 patent application is a document related to and in the process for obtaining legal protection of the disclosed technology.  Does it indicate a forthcoming product announcement?  The short answer is no.  Forbes however is not deterred from inferring that a dongle product may be on the way.  It begins with the article’s title that includes the phrase “might be coming”.  In other places one finds “Fortunately, Apple seems to be developing a solution for those of us that are wishing for MagSafe connectors in newer MacBooks.” and “Essentially, this means Apple might be working on a MagSafe dongle that plugs into a USB-C port and supports compatible connectors.”

a different angle

One has to wonder if it is likely Apple will be releasing a dongle as described in the ’310 application?  The earliest date associated with the ’310 application is September 30, 2015.  That is 18 months ago.  The dongle, including any circuitry therein is quite simple.  It would not have taken very long to design and manufacture it.  One would anticipate that Apple would already have a product on the market if that was their intent.

So, the ‘310 patent application discloses a dongle with some “safety” circuitry between the two ends thereof.  That is it.  There would not be much development associated with such a connector. So, with it not being on sale by now I would guess the chances of one seeing it from Apple are low.  Apple will though have whatever Claims issue from the ‘310 application in its pocket.