Apple's MagSafe connectors were first introduced in 2006 and are currently only available on various MacBook notebook computers and the Apple LED Cinema Display. Turns out Apple is still working on patents to expand use of the technology to more of its products, namely future models of the iPhone and iPad.
The magnetic connectors described in a patent discovered by AppleInsider would bring MagSafe functionality to a new level with a universal, programmable cable. The idea is that different pin configurations could be used to connect different devices by deploying the correct number of programmable magnetic pins on the fly.
Not only this, but adding magnetic cables to the iPhone and iPad would have several advantages over the current 30-pin dock connector. Apple would be able to completely seal the iOS devices from water and weather since the MagSafe jack consists of a few exposed contacts. No depth into the inside of the iPhone is required to connect the magnetic cable. Also, since the cable is only held by the force of the magnets, if the cable is accidentally pulled it simply detaches without damaging the iPhone.
The patent explains that the magnetic connectors can be used to prevent coupling of certain cables and even repulse or eject a connection in the event of an emergency. AppleInsider also described a magnet-powered headphone connector. This would allow smaller devices to have shallower headphone ports by automatically retracting the full length of the headphone plug to match. When the headphones are used on a full-sized device, the plug can be extended to reveal more contacts for additional functionality.The patent, titled "Programmable Magnetic Connectors" was filed in July 2011. It could be some time before the connectors make their way onto a future iPhone. Apple does not license existing MagSafe technology and uses it exclusively thanks to another patent filed by the company in September 2005.