Thunderbolt I/O ports, which Apple has already installed in its newest MacBooks and iMacs, are up to 12 times faster than FireWire 800 and up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0 ports. Apple and Intel jointly developed the technology, and if included on iPhones and iPads, it would make data transfers significantly faster that what is offered now. Using Thunderbolt ports would mean faster re-charging as well.
Apple’s latest batch of patent applications, which were first spotted by Patently Apple, were released by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this morning. Patently Apple points out that Apple may be creating its own cabling technology to handle Thunderbolt connections, and that owning patents related to it will help it achieve these goals.
While we don’t expect the next version of the iPad — rumored for release in March — to include a Thunderbolt port, it’s not hard to imagine the iPad 4 including one, based on these patents. As for the iPhone 5, which will likely see release in summer or fall 2012, a Thunderbolt port would be a nice but unlikely surprise.
Would you like to see Thunderbolt ports on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch?