Apple may be planning to launch a new version of its Smart Cover for iPad tablets, which for the first time will include a physical keyboard, judging by a recently revealed patent application.

Uncovered by the fine-toothed-comb-wielding enthusiasts at AppleInsider, the patent, blandly entitled "Cover for electronic device," showcases a multi-touch, razor thin typing surface.

The presence of multi-touch sensors, which would seemingly be activated by lightly swiping across keys, would negate the need for a touchpad on the keyboard, which could be detached from the cover and used wirelessly

Currently, the company sells an external, iPad-compatible Bluetooth keyboard, but the launch of an integrated solution would give Apple tablet owners something resembling the Microsoft Surface Touch Cover.

Word up!

The timing of the patent revelation is coincidental given it comes on the same day that Microsoft outed its Office for iPad suite, following years of speculation.

Given there are few users who enjoy lengthy periods of typing on a touchscreen, the introduction of Microsoft Word, combined with a svelte new keyboard case could open the door for a new era of productivity for Apple's tablet.