Microsoft patent would keep Surface Type Cover from 'flopping' with magnets

Surface Pro 6 with Aqua keyboard
Surface Pro 6 with Aqua keyboard (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • A newly discovered Microsoft patent could prevent your Surface (opens in new tab) Type Cover from "flopping" open when in tablet mode.
  • The patent describes a few different methods of using magnets to hold the Type Cover in place.
  • As with all patents, there's no guarantee this will make it to a shipping product, but it could solve one of the Surface Pro's more irritating issues.

Microsoft may be planning a way to keep your Surface Pro Type Cover from "flopping" open when using the device in tablet mode. As spotted by Windows United, Microsoft has patented a way to use magnets to hold the Type Cover to the back of a device.

The patent appears to work much like magnetic mechanisms on current tablets when covers are closed, but in reverse. It would securely hold the Type Cover to the rear of a Surface Pro, preventing it from folding back open when attempting to use the device as a tablet.

As is the case with all patents, there's no guarantee this mechanism will see the light of day in a shipping product; Microsoft patents things that go unseen all of the time. However, it would be a handy addition that could solve a somewhat irritating issue in the next Surface Pro.

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Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • My wallet phone case does this and it's old. Gj ms. Only 5 years behind some Chinese factory.
  • Yeah, the iPad Pro cases are also like this. Makes me wonder why this patent was approved?
  • Cause this is a keyboard?
    The more specific the criteria are, the easier is for your patent to e accepted.
  • So are the iPad Pro covers.
  • I don't feel like I want to waste my time check the criterias,
    > The more specific the criteria are, the easier is for your patent to be accepted.
    stands. Nintendo has a virtual-analog-for-touch-screen patent.
    You can bypass it, if your V-pad is placed NOT DIRECTLY under your finger. A slight offset will do. Konami has a patent, is about adjusting object's transparency between camera and your character. I forgot which studio it is, maybe Sega... has a patent doing pretty much the same thing by raycasting from the opposite direction.
  • Are they though? This patent is about keeping the cover open, not closed. I've never used an iPad Pro but I'm not sure that those covers do that. Also, iPad covers have bends in them so it makes sense that they would need something to keep them closed, because they could easily bend and collapse open. A Surface Type Cover is one solid piece so that can't really happen. I've had a Surface 3 and then a Surface Pro and I don't recall ever having had the cover open when I didn't want it to, although that's not to say that it wouldn't happen to anyone ever. I have had more of a problem controlling the cover when it's folded back for tablet mode - although still not a lot - so this patent could help there.
  • You appear to be mistaken, the patent is about preventing the cover from flopping open, not keeping it open.
  • "The patent appears to work much like magnetic mechanisms on current tablets when covers are closed, but in reverse. It would securely hold the Type Cover to the rear of a Surface Pro, preventing it from folding back open when attempting to use the device as a tablet."
    According to the article he's right. Their use of "folding back open" is a poor weird choice, but the rest of it implies it's to hold it open.
    Which is, off, I'd much rather they hold it closed. Could use a Hall Effect Sensor to wake it up when I open it, like a normal laptop then.
  • I wonder whether the mechanism might actually work both ways but they could only patent it one way because the other way was already fairly commonplace.
  • My apologies to the other guy that I forgot the screen name of because I'm in the mobile app and can't see it, I stand corrected.
  • You appear not to have read the story.
  • Yeah, my bad. I skimmed the text and I'm not a good speed reader. As an aside, this kinda seems pointless, does anyone actually reverse the keyboard on the surface to put it on the back of the device? I mean you kind of have to remove the cover and turn it around to do that, might as well just leave the cover off.
  • No, it's about keeping the keyboard attached to the back of the Surface device while you use it as a tablet. It's not about keeping the keyboard attached when it's covering the screen. Not a big deal for me either way but that's not how other tablet's floppy keyboards work.
  • Does it? This is specifically about sticking the cover to the back of the surface when using it as a tablet, not sticking it to the front when it's closed. Does your phone case do that? Maybe, but it's not something I've ever seen. I've seen wallet covers that use magnets to stay closed but it's always been the case that they stick to themselves, not the phone. This would specifically be a case of the Type Cover sticking to the Surface device, not to itself.
  • Yea, it is to stick the cover to the back. From the illustration though, the artist has never seen a Surface. When folded back, the keyboard and touch pad are not on the inside. (Normally anyway. You can click it on backwards, if you want. On my Go at least. Haven't thought to try on a Pro.)
  • Is the Surface line smart enough to disable the keyboard if bent all the way back? This has always been an issue while using these devices like a tablet for me. I guess it's not so bad when you can remove the keyboard, but a hinged 2 in 1 like the Spectre you are stuck.
  • It is! I regularly use it in tablet mode with the Surface TypeCover on, because it's less slippery like that. Plus I don't have to take off the cover and lose it somewhere. I use the Surface Pro 4 TypeCover on my Surface Pro (5th Gen). I would be surprised if the newer ones did not work the same way 😉
  • What they should do is miniaturize the Surfacebook hinge and apply it to the Surface Type Cover.
  • In my experience, this would be a solution in search of a problem. My Surface either sits on a table, or I'm holding it in one hand. In either situation, I am/gravity is already holding it so that the keyboard is pushed against the device. It actually takes deliberate effort to make the keyboard flop around.
  • The device on FIG. 7 doesn't even look like a Surface Pro though. From the looks of it has a different form factor and a USB type-C connector.