Apple wins Patent revealing possible future all-glass iPhone that allows Imagery on both Front & Backsides, plus an all-Glass Mac Pro Tower +
Apple has been filing patents regarding possible future Apple devices with all-glass housing for about 8 years. One of our reports posted in November 2020 illustrates a few examples of a cool desktop and an iPad. Apple's original work dates back to 2013. Yesterday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent about devices with all-glass enclosures ranging from an iPhone to a Pro tower to an Apple Watch.
Apple's invention covers an electronic device (a future iPhone) that includes a six-sided glass enclosure defining an interior volume and comprising a first glass member and a second glass member.
The first glass member defines at least a portion of a first major side of the six-sided glass enclosure, at least a portion of a peripheral side of the six-sided glass enclosure, a first region along the peripheral side and having a first thickness, and a second region along the peripheral side and having a second thickness different from the first thickness.
Apple's patent FIGS. 26A to 26C below show an example display component #2600 that may define six display regions #2602-1-2602-6, one region for each side of a six-sided transparent enclosure (e.g., a rectangular prism). In embodiments where an enclosure includes six sides, some sides may not include a display, that corresponding portion of the display component #2600 may be omitted or inoperative.
Apple further notes that the second glass member is attached to the first glass member and defines at least a portion of a second major side of the six-sided glass enclosure. The electronic device further includes a touchscreen display within the interior volume and positioned adjacent at least a portion of each of the six sides of the six-sided glass enclosure.
The electronic device may further include a force-sensing system configured to detect a deformation of the first region and, in response to detecting the deformation of the first region, change an operation of the electronic device.
Apple's patent FIGS. 1A-1B below show front and back views of an example electronic device #100 that may include an enclosure #102 formed of glass and define a first major side #104 (e.g., resembling a conventional "front" of the device), a second major side #106 (e.g., resembling a conventional "back" of the device), and first, second, third, and fourth peripheral sides #108, #110, #112 and #114, respectively, all of which may be formed from glass and which may be transparent. The glass enclosure #102 may be formed from a single (e.g., monolithic) glass member or multiple glass members attached together.
While the physical distinctions between the surfaces can be used to define or delineate functionally different regions of the device, an enclosure with multiple glass sides (and displays that are visible through the multiple glass sides) may also be used to erase or blend the distinctions between the various surfaces of the device.
For example, under certain conditions, such a device may display graphical outputs (e.g., images, videos, etc.) that span multiple displays and sides of the device. For example, a single displayed graphical output (e.g., image, user interface, etc.) may wrap or extend over a front side, one or more peripheral sides, and a back side of the device, thus contributing to the unified appearance of the multiple sides.
As another example, a primary user interface may extend over a front side, one or more peripheral sides, and a back side of the device (or, in the context of a cylindrical enclosure, the primary user interface may extend around the round cylindrical wall of the enclosure). This may allow icons to move across multiple surfaces when swiped, and may even allow icons or other graphical outputs to appear as a ribbon-like user interface that wraps around the device.
For example, a user interface may be continuously scrollable in a left-right direction such that an icon or other graphical output may be scrolled off of a front side, over a peripheral side and on to a back side.
If the user interface is further scrolled, the icon or other graphical output may be scrolled over another peripheral side to return to the front side. Similar scrolling effects may be realized in other directions as well (e.g., up-down, diagonally, etc.), producing a continuous scroll phenomenon around the entire device.
In the case of a cylindrical enclosure, for example, the user interface may continuously scroll around the cylindrical wall. Accordingly, while in some cases the various surfaces of a device may be used to help distinguish different areas (e.g., based on the type of graphical outputs or functions provided on those areas), an enclosure with multiple transparent glass sides or surfaces, and corresponding displays, may also minimize such distinctions to form a functionally and visually unified display region that spans multiple surfaces.
Apple patent FIGS. 53B&C illustrate an iPhone being flipped and seeing the imagery wrap around the sides through to the backside shown in patent FIGS. 51A&B.
Apple's patent FIG. 4E below is a perspective view of a Mac Pro Tower concept #460 having an enclosure #462 in the shape of an octagonal prism. The enclosure may be formed of glass and may be transparent along all or substantially all of the surfaces.
Apple's patent FIG. 57 above illustrates a possible future Apple Watch #5700 that includes an enclosure #5701 formed entirely or substantially entirely of glass.
Apple also notes that in some cases, the sides of the iPhone will be deformable and/or deflectable in response to an application of a force-based input. For example, the user may be able to squeeze the enclosure and/or press on sides to lower or raise music or content volume.
Lastly, Apple's patent covers strength of future glass. Apple specifically notes that "Electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablet computers, and other small and/or handheld devices, may be subject to impacts, drops, and other potentially damaging events. Accordingly, the enclosures described herein may be configured with variable thickness walls to help increase the strength, durability, crack resistance, or other physical properties, in certain areas of the enclosures. The variable thickness walls may also be used to produce different regions that have different flexibilities or stiffnesses for user-interface purposes." Apple's patent dives deeper on this point.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent 11,175,769.