We all know Apple is putting its support behind Thunderbolt/Light Peak as the next dominant data transfer standard. Their latest patent applications show a use for the technology beyond MacBooks and iMacs: iOS devices.
The patents mostly revolve around the design of wires and connectors, but Patently Apple was able to dig up a telling quote.
"Before going into the details of this main patent in their series of three, it should be noted that Apple states in their secondary patent application that "the present invention, connection may also be a new type of connection." For example, "a connection may be provided between a portable media player and a display, a computer and a portable media player, or between other types of devices." Of course if this is to apply to future iOS devices, as suggested in the quote above, Apple will have to reengineer the connector to be flat enough to fit a USB-type of device slot. The good news is that transferring data to and from an iOS device will be lighting fast as will recharging."
These patent apps could very well just be a preemptive move by apple to maintain some control over the technology (which was jointly developed with Intel), since they've also gone to great length to secure the trademarks for Thunderbolt. But it also seems logical that Thunderbolt will someday replace USB in our iPhones and iPads, and the thought of faster battery charging, as suggested, is something that's always welcome. [Patently Apple via Business Insider]