A Major Apple Patent Reveals all-new all-glass iPhone Enclosures that allow Imagery on both Front and Backsides
Apple has envisioned wraparound glass enclosures for future iPhones along with patents for iPhones with sidewall displays for years as a number of patents have proven out (01, 02, 03, 04) going back to at least 2013. Apple has also filed for at least two patents for an iMac with a glass enclosure (01 & 02). Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a major patent application from Apple that relates to Glass iPhone enclosures that will allow images to extend from the face side around to the backside. They also disclose a glass computer tower and an all-glass Apple Watch enclosure.
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 second thickness may be greater than the first thickness, and the second region may define at least a portion of a corner region of the six-sided glass enclosure. The first glass member may further define an input region along an exterior surface of the peripheral side and having a surface texture that is different from an area surrounding the input region.
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. 51A-51B presented below depict another example electronic device #5100 that includes a glass enclosure #5102 and a display #5116 (which may be similar to the corresponding components described with reference to FIGS. 1A-1B), showing another example configuration in which openings allow sound and/or light to pass in and out of the enclosure #5102.
In particular, an opening #5118 (which may be a continuous channel) may wrap at least partially around the device #5100 from a first major side #5104 to a second major side #5106. For example, the opening #5118 may have a first opening portion through the first major side #5104, a second opening portion through the peripheral side #5108, and a third opening portion through the second major side #5106.
Apple's patent FIG. 45B below shows an example computer tower glass enclosure #4510 having textured regions which provide affordances such as volume buttons, power buttons, ring/silent buttons, or the like may be positioned at various locations on an enclosure.
Apple's patent FIG. 57 above illustrates another example wearable electronic device, and specifically 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.
Apple's patent application that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back in Q3 2019. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.