On January 15, 2015, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a possible next-generation multi-functional iDevice Home Button. In the first mode, the Home Button retains its standard functionality. In the second mode, the Home Button transforms into a pure gaming joystick. The transition from one mode to the other is rather simple through a pressure sensor. This looks like it could be serious fun for gamers in the future.
During Apple's iPad event in October they side-stepped their new Apple SIM feature that they knew would controversial. CNBC mentioned it the next day with one analyst calling it "remarkable." In their literature, Apple states that "The new Apple SIM is preinstalled on iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi + Cellular models. The Apple SIM gives you the flexibility to choose from a variety of short-term plans from select carriers in the U.S. and UK right on your iPad. So whenever you need it, you can choose the plan that works best for you — with no long-term commitments. And when you travel, you may also be able to choose a data plan from a local carrier for the duration of your trip." Today, the US Patent & Trademark Office published the patent application that's behind the new Apple SIM.
Over the years of covering Apple's patent applications we've learnt that in many instances Apple has different teams working on a single problem from different angles in order to find the right solution prior to bringing it to market. Last March we posted a patent report titled"Apple Invents Unique Protective Mechanisms for Future Devices." Then last October we posted another report on this subject titled "Apple Advances their Device Free Fall Protection Invention." Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals how this project is progressing in interesting new areas. Today's invention introduces us to drop countermeasures that could be added to future versions of Apple's iPad Smart Cover and Smart Case to shield the iPad from damage to vital components or its display when accidentally dropped. Apple also discusses new drop countermeasures designed for the iPhone.
Late last month we posted a report titled "Microsoft considers a new Splittable Xbox Controller for Surface Tablet Game Play," and therein noted that the smartest approach to gaming controls on a tablet actually came by way of Apple's cool patent about backside touch controls for the iPad. Today, the US Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple this patent. With Apple bringing their new gaming "Metal" technology to iOS 8 next month, we're bound to see console quality gaming for the first time coming to iDevices like the iPad. In fact we already know that the BioShock game is going to be one of the first debuting in September. If backside gaming controls were introduced later this year, Apple would certainly have iPads flying off the shelves for Christmas. In July we posted a report titled "Apple's CEO is sharply focused on the iPad with Hints of Significant Innovation on the Way." It's unknown at this time if Apple's backside controls will actually make it for 2014, but this is certainly considered a "significant innovation" for the iPad. I think this would send shockwaves through the industry if Apple pulled it off in the not-too-distant future. Yet as always, only time will tell.