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.
On March 6, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple titled "Wi-Fi Credential Sharing using Images." Setting up your iDevices to a new wireless network at coffee shops or other entertainment hubs is time consuming. Wouldn't it be nice to just tell Siri to set it up for you and be done with it? Well, Apple's invention covers just that and more.
On November 14, 2013 the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals everything you want to know about the iPad's split keyboard. The invention places a lot of emphasis on a "candidate bar" next to the left side of the virtual keyboard as noted above. As a character input is received via the keyboard, the iPad may update the candidate bar to include various candidate characters that correspond to the received character input. The candidate characters may be individual letters or they may be words, phrases, numbers, or the like.
A patent application from Apple surfaced earlier this month in Europe revealing a new Korean patent filing. The patent was originally secretly filed in the US in 2011 under the names of the inventors without showing an assignee. In that way, a search for Apple's new patent filing in the US Patent Office's database would never reveal the original filing. The Korean filing covering the same invention now reveals that Apple is the assignee. Whether the secrecy is warranted or not is another matter. Apple's invention reveals an Aperture and/or iPhoto user interface designed for the iPad that uses a new method for editing photo brightness, color saturation, contrast and more. The new UI will offer users a sophisticated pop-up menu and sub-menu system.
On this holiday July fourth, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a new speaker design aimed primarily for iDevices such the iPad and iPhone. This is Apple's third attempt at trying to find the right design for an advanced sound system for smaller computers. Apple's first design surfaced in May 2012 which was followed by a more elaborate design in March of this year. All three designs are aimed at delivering much richer audio for music, video and as an iPhone speakerphone.
On June 13, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals an all-new kind of tablet cover. The patent filing is deadly focused on the make-up and process in creating the cover using various materials with non-radio portions so as not to interfere with the tablet's various radios. Considering that Apple's original Smart Cover was introduced in early 2011 and that this new filing was only filed in December 2012, it's pretty clear that Ive's Industrial Design Team have something completely new in mind. Could it be a new iBooks centric design? Only time will tell.
On May 30, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals Apple's gaze detection technology. It should be noted that Apple's current patent is a divisional patent which means that Apple is breaking this aspect of their 2008 parent patent out as an individual patent. Technically, Apple had this technology in a patent prior to any other competitor including Samsung which actually implemented it first in their Galaxy S4 smartphone earlier this year. Apple also added gaze technologies to a January patent in context to an HDTV related patent and the likes of Sony and BlackBerry are working on similar features. Today, when you put your iPhone to your face the display is turned off. This is one of the technologies found in Apple's gaze detection patent. In the future, gaze technology will be able to stop a video when you look away or stop your tunes from playing based on this gaze detection feature. At the end of the day, Apple's gaze detection technology is really more about conserving power than it is about providing a flashy gimmick.