Microsoft has applied for a patent that will allow you to dock your smartphone, giving it PC-like powers to print, network, connect to an external display and more.As smartphones become more powerful with each passing month, the biggest constraint on their usefulness becomes their diminutive size. They work fine for e-mail triage, but no matter how nice the keyboard or other input system is, you don't want to compose long e-mails or letters on them for very long. It can be difficult trying to understand exactly what information a spreadsheet is trying to convey when you can only see a dozen rows and two columns at a time. Microsoft has filed a patent called the "Smart Interface System For Mobile Communications Devices." This patent would remove many of the barriers caused by the device's size. The dock would use the memory and CPU of the smartphone, but most other features would be moved to peripherals more suited for work, like external keyboards, monitors, printers, and Ethernet networks. The patent goes on to include information on how the phone would change behavior depending on what was connected. For example, if it detected that a TV and game controller was connected to the dock, the phone would assume you were at home and may be able to put things like push e-mail from work on hold while you enjoyed your personal life. The dock should be small enough that you could stick it in a briefcase or bag to take on business trips, allowing you do tasks such as giving presentations without having to carry a laptop. The patent includes ideas for other interfaces with the "smart interface system" technology, such as connecting via a USB tether or even via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, allowing the user more freedom to move around while retaining a connection to external devices.
The patent gives no information as to when, or if, this will come to market.