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Apple is examining how to produce iPhone cases from knitted fabric instead of molded silicone, similar to not just the braided Apple Watch band, but also potentially like the long-gone iPod Socks.
Put the thought of iPod socks out of your mind. Apple’s newly granted patent about fabrics, textiles, and knitting, is for making snap-on cases like its silicone ones. Just made from fabric, and also with options for knitted designs on the back.
“Custom fabric cases for electronic devices,” is concerned with providing an alternative to existing types of case — and even gets a little critical of plastic ones.
“Electronic devices such as cellular telephones, computers, and other electronic equipment are sometimes used in conjunction with external cases,” says the patent. “Removable cases may also be used to personalize electronic devices.”
“Plastic cases may be satisfactory in certain situations,” it continues, “but some users may desire a case with different aesthetics. As a result, fabric cases have been developed.”
However, Apple doesn’t think much to existing fabric cases either. The patent claims that there are limitations over just how much customization has been possible before, and proposes new solutions.
“There are challenges associated with forming fabric cases for electronic devices,” it says. “A user may have limited choices when it comes to selecting a fabric case for his or her device. The user may be able to select a desired color, but may otherwise be unable to customize a fabric case according to the user’s preferences.”
Every example drawing in the patent shows quite rigid cases, far closer to the design of Apple’s silicone ones than its previous socks. That’s because although Apple does specifically talk about textile machines, it also wants to be clear that its method of knitting strands together can apply to countless materials.
“[The case] may be formed of plastic, glass, ceramics, fiber composites, metal (e.g., stainless steel, aluminum, etc.), other suitable materials, or a combination of any two or more of these materials,” says the patent. “[The casing] may be formed using a unibody configuration in which some or all of [the] housing is machined or molded as…