We reported earlier on the Novothink solar iPhone charger, the first device of its kind to be approved by Apple. Someday you may not even need an external case to charge your Apple device in the sun.
Apple has filed patents involving integrated solar charging panels built into future mobile devices and media players. According to the patent, energy-producing panels could be placed directly under touch screen surfaces such as an iPhone display.
Ryan McClafferty at The Atlantic did some math and determined that an iPhone covered with a highly efficient solar panel would generate 1.2 watts per hour in full sunlight. A standard iPhone charger provides more than four times this amount of energy at 5 watts per hour.
Regardless of this fact, as solar panels improve and the technology matures, Apple is looking in the right direction. Anything that reduces the amount of time an iPhone has to tether and charge would be a welcome improvement.iPods like the one pictured above would have a transparent solar cell embedded in its surface to provide a constant charge.
The latest patents were filed in August 2008 and October 2006 and are named "Power Management Circuitry and Solar Cells" and "Solar Cells on Portable Devices" respectively.