In late November Patently Apple posted a report titled "The Latest trend of Physical Buttons on a Smartphone being replaced with Touch Controls is one that Apple is likely to Adopt." The report illustrated the new Huawei P30 with 'Side-Touch display Interaction. Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published Apple's seventh granted patent for iPhones with sidewall touch displays, proving that Apple had been working on this invention way before Huawei ever launched this feature.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a perspective view of an illustrative electronic device with a flexible display having portions on multiple surfaces of a device; FIGS. 15 and 16 illustrates side views of a portion of an illustrative edge-display that includes virtual buttons for selecting software applications and more.
So what did Apple add to this invention that differs from the last granted patent? The last granted patent issued in June of this year emphasized a display with an array of pixels arranged in a first and second group.
In today's granted patent, Apple places emphasis on first and second active display regions; the display comprises a touch-sensitive layer that extends from the first active display region to the second active display region; wherein the display has a third active display region with a straight edge that abuts the opaque masking layer; wherein the display comprises a display substrate that extends continuously between the first, second, and third active display regions.
Apple's granted patent 10,521,034 was published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Apple filed for this granted patent in Q2 2019.