The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published an Apple patent application today that suggests the company has explored a new kind of mobile hotspot technology that is easier to set up, provides a more reliable connection, and has a longer battery life.
The patent application, first reported by Apple Insider, is for a small, cylindrical Wi-Fi hotspot device consisting of two pieces: one containing the networking hardware, the other a battery pack. Screw the two pieces together and you have a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.
The description of the technology in the application points out that some of the available options for mobile hotspots – i.e. separate devices like a laptop – are not very convenient to carry everywhere the user would like to connect to Wi-Fi, like when jogging or hiking. The application also mentioned security concerns with connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots, a concern anyone who has spent any time working in a coffee shop has shared. This portable, private Wi-Fi network could solve that issue.
Although this application was filed in November 2013, The Verge pointed out that this kind of solution sounds like a perfect fit for Apple's newest product, the Apple Watch. It's already marketed at people who want to wear a smart device while jogging. Adding mobile hotspot functionality based on this technology could be a huge value-add for the Apple Watch, particularly with the amount of music streaming a user might do while exercising.