Feeds

End of buttons? Apple looks to patent animating iPhone sidewalls

Filing suggests handset with display strips

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Apple has filed for a patent on technology to put small displays in the sidewalls of a smartphone.

The documents submitted by the company to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) describe a device which uses a flexible screen capable of being bent around the corners of the casing.

The bent screen, according to Apple, could then be paired with an open handset housing, allowing the exposed corners and sides to act as touchscreen panels.

"Edge displays may alternately function as virtual buttons, virtual switches, or informational displays that are supplemental to front side displays," Apple writes in its filing.

"Virtual buttons may include transparent button members, lenses, haptic feedback components, audio feedback components, or other components for providing feedback to a user when virtual buttons are activated."

Apple panel patent

Apple's proposed panel design

Using this description, it's not hard to imagine a future iPhone which could do away with nearly all of its few remaining hardware buttons. Animated buttons could, for example, replace the two side volume and brightness controls on the current iPhone layout.

The panels could also possibly be customized by the user with set themes or animated for use as controls by iOS apps and games.

The patent filing, credited to Apple engineers Scott Myers, Stephen Brian Lynch and Anthony Montevirgen, was only submitted to the USPTO in May of this year, so there's no telling how far off it is from actual implementation as a prototype. As always, it bears noting that many of the technologies filed as patent applications never make it into finalized products.

Still, the filing should excite fanbois looking for leads on what the next few years of iStuffs will look and feel like. With an upcoming class of iPhones due for September, we should get further clues about where Apple is going with its flagship handslab in a matter of weeks. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
Jaguar Sportbrake: The chicken tikka masala of van-sized posh cars
Indian-owned Jag's latest offering curries favour with us
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Here's your chance to buy an ancient, working APPLE ONE
Warning: Likely to cost a lot even for a Mac
Xiaomi boss snaps back at Jony Ive's iPhone rival 'theft' swipe
I'll have a handset delivered. Judge us after you try us...
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.