We're expecting a new iPad to be announced in the next few months, and it appears that it, or future iterations of it, could have a built-in kickstand. A new patent filed by Apple shows a stowable stand that folds into the iPad's casing, removing the need for cases with built-in stands.
The patent, detailed by Patently Apple, shows a dual-hinged stand that folds out to hold up the iPad in either portrait or landscape mode on a surface like a table. It might not be built-in; the patent says it might be optional, which means it might affix via screws, suction cup, magnets, or witchcraft.
No matter what, it's better than not having a stand. As anyone with an iPad will tell you, a stand's a good idea--apps like Hulu and Netflix are popular on the iPad, and unless you're watching them in bed, you have to hold the tablet up. That's fine for short YouTube videos of cats hitting people in the groin, but not for watching awesome movies like "Fletch."
Currently there are many such cases with stands available on eBay, and one I got recently came with a free gift--a stylus, which leads to another intriguing patent by Apple we covered recently: yes, a stylus.
Styli (that's styluses to you and me) for iPads aren't new, and they can be useful. I have a couple of drawing apps, but unlike David Hockney, finger painting isn't my style. The stylus I got in my eBay-bought case is perfect for sketching.
Apple's patent shows a stylus with a ballpoint-pen-type end, allowing it to apparently roll on a conductive disk of some sort. The disk is larger than the point of the stylus, so that capacitive screens, like those of the iPhone or iPad, can sense it.
As with all patents, this may or may not evolve into a shipping product, but the fact that Apple is working with the idea of a stylus is intriguing. Steve Jobs famously said during the iPhone's launch that styluses were for suckers (to paraphrase).
Then count me among the suckers; I want a stylus for my iPad.