theodp writes "Responding to Microsoft's Windows 8 efforts, Apple CEO Tim Cook insisted in late April that combining a tablet and a notebook would be like converging a toaster and a refrigerator. But a patent application submitted by Apple last year — and made public Tuesday morning — proposes marrying a tablet and a keyboard to create 'a true laptop alternative,' which GeekWire notes looks a lot like Microsoft Surface (comparison pic). In its patent filing, Apple describes various ways that a tablet's cover could be used as an I-O device — as a tactile-feedback keyboard ('word processing and email become much more efficient'), to display additional output, as a touchpad replacement, and even to receive stylus input. 'The experience,' claims Apple, 'is even better in some ways than the laptop experience.' So, with Apple and Microsoft both onboard, will Chick-fil-A eventually come out in support of toaster-and-refrigerator marriage?"