In a pile of new Apple patent applications released today, one surprise stood out: Apple is working on an external transceiver that would turn an iPod touch - or any mobile device, from a media player to a game console - into a full-featured cellular phone. The patent, called "Accessory Transceiver for Mobile Devices," was highlighted by Patently Apple
today. In addition to giving calling services to an iPod, the patent also details how the transceiver could be used to connect an iPhone to a different cellular network, specifically referencing a CDMA network like the one used by Verizon in the US.
The patent, credited to Apple engineers Paul Holden, Robert Borchers, Jesse Lee Dorogusker, Emily Clark Schubert and Stephen Chick
, was one of 27 that were released today. In the introduction, the inventors noted that "conventional mobile devices are often dedicated to performing a specific application," such as MP3 players that only play music or dumbphones that are limited to making calls. The invention aims to add communication functionality to devices that don't currently have it, allowing you to, for example, make calls from a PSP, or browse the Web from a phone without data services. The patent notes, significantly, that "a mobile device can be equipped with an internal transceiver that allows the mobile device to communicate with a mobile phone network, for example, a GSM mobile telephone network… can use an accessory transceiver to communicate with a different mobile phone network, for example, a CDMA mobile telephone network." So this invention would allow any
iPhone to access Verizon's network, whether or not Apple ever comes out with the long-rumored CDMA version of the phone.
A more likely Apple product based on this patent, though, would be an accessory that would give cell phone capability to iPad or iPod touch devices. The drawings attached to the patent, in fact, show the iPod touch as the controlling device for the transceiver. In addition to a cell network, the transceiver could be used to access other wireless data systems, such as satellite networks, WiFi, WiMAX, and so forth. The transceiver could either be connected by a cord to the device or, in some "embodiments of the invention," wirelessly.
source: Patently Apple