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Future iPhones, iPads from Apple may add buttons, indicators to bezel

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
Apple could add visual indicators and touch-sensitive buttons to the bezel that surrounds the display of future iPhone and iPad hardware.

The idea of buttons and indicators on the bezel is described as a "secondary display" in a new patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week. Apple's proposed invention would include multiple regions on the surrounding bezel of an iPad display, displaying information designed to help users navigate the device.

The application, entitled "Electronic Devices with a Primary Display and a Selectively Illuminated Secondary Display," notes that traditional touchscreen devices must display a virtual button on a touchscreen to show a user where to press. These indicators occupy space on a screen, particularly on a device the size of an iPhone, that could instead be used for displaying visual content.

Apple's solution would have a secondary display around the bezel, which could perhaps be a "printed segmented electroluminescence display." That secondary display could guide a user to providing inputs on the device, or it could act as the inputs themselves with the use of a touch panel.

The secondary display could be selectively illuminated depending on the use of the device. Appropriate graphics and icons would be displayed when users have the ability to select something related to the active application, and the secondary display could also illuminate based on the orientation of the device, whether the user was holding it in portrait or landscape mode.



The application notes that such virtual buttons could be used to control a device without a user's fingers getting in the way. For example, users could control a video game by utilizing touch controls on the bezel of the device, keeping their fingers from obstructing the view of the touchscreen.



The proposed invention made public this week by the USPTO was filed by Apple in October of 2009. It is credited to Gloria Lin, Andrew Hodge, Taido Nakajima, Bruno Germansderfer, and Saumitro Dasgupta.
post #2 of 36
Ugh... that's one thing that I always have hated about Android devices. Hopefully this doesn't happen.
post #3 of 36
These could work well for smaller devices e.g. iPod Touch/iPhone, but much less so for larger ones like the iPad wherein the bezel is often used to hold the device.
"Why iPhone"... Hmmm?
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"Why iPhone"... Hmmm?
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post #4 of 36
There is no need to add anything to the iThingie. It functions fine the way it is. It just needs a small bump in screen size, nothing else.
post #5 of 36
Since when did Jobs turn pro buttons?
post #6 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchAngel21x View Post

Since when did Jobs turn pro buttons?

Well in this case they would be virtual buttons. I dunno, I could see that being useful for games as mentioned. Altho the Tron Legacy app did things well w/the tank controls.
post #7 of 36
All make good points, bad idea for the iPad. Steve last I knew hated buttons. And agreed, put the iPhone up to 4 inches and it reduces the need. Get iOS a make over and better notification system. You eliminate the need altogether.

My GF had a BB back 2-3 years ago (iPhone now).
The blinking LED to let you know that you get a text or call was a pretty cool feature.
post #8 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post

There is no need to add anything to the iThingie. It functions fine the way it is. It just needs a small bump in screen size, nothing else.

I wouldnt expect this to be used on the portrait sides of the iPhone or Touch. Id expect that to lose even more bezel as it matures. I can see this on the top and bottom and on the iPad where there is plenty of room.

One issue with these touch panels is that at the edge they are less precise and sensitive. This could allow for as precise input on the very edge as anywhere else on the display, providing its a single touch panel. This could allow for Apple to use simple and small icons in the Menu Bar that will bring up a rich System Notification panel without needing to be extremely precise, as is the case with LockInfo and swiping of the Menu Bar.

Im not convinced about the secondary display, but it does ring more true than the display within a display option from the other patent weve seen today.

I do hope that will will comes with some with at least 4 sensor areas on the front of an iPhone or Touch that will allow for better off screen game controls, which would also mean APIs to take full advantage of this feature.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #9 of 36
So much for claims that the next iteration will have an edge-to-edge screen...
post #10 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameronj View Post

Ugh... that's one thing that I always have hated about Android devices. Hopefully this doesn't happen.

As long as you have to invoke these buttons for them to be active I think it's a good idea. I would also hope that they're invisible when not invoked. The 4 capacitive buttons on my Evo are terrible - always being pushed when I don't want them to be. It's especially troublesome when I try to let my 2 year old watch a video or play a game. She's always saying "uh-oh" when using my phone, but she can use my wife's iPhone with no problems.
post #11 of 36
I'd settle for a blinking LED for missed mail/messages/calls...
post #12 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple could add visual indicators and touch-sensitive buttons to the bezel that surrounds the display of future iPhone and iPad hardware.

Could, but won't. Apple patents seem to be oozing from the walls right now, but none of them will get used.

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post #13 of 36
I get the feeling we'll get another "you're holding it wrong" email from Stevesie when people constantly brush the virtual buttons during normal use, resulting in dropped calls, mistaken messages,etc. (i.e ear touching the bezel while talking, hand touching bezel while typing messages, etc.

On a device as small as the iphone, the bezel actually serves an important role as a "buffer zone".
post #14 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Superbass View Post

I get the feeling we'll get another "you're holding it wrong" email from Stevesie when people constantly brush the virtual buttons during normal use, resulting in dropped calls, mistaken messages,etc. (i.e ear touching the bezel while talking, hand touching bezel while typing messages, etc.

On a device as small as the iphone, the bezel actually serves an important role as a "buffer zone".

I didnt get the impression that the touch-sensitive bezel would always be on.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #15 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by msechea View Post

So much for claims that the next iteration will have an edge-to-edge screen...

Nah, the majority of ideas Apple patents never make it to market.

The existence of this patent is meaningless. You can't infer anything about Apple's product roadmap from their patent application filings.

Remember, this is a company who creates dozens, even a hundred prototypes for every new device and only one design wins. Apple will patent everything they can, regardless of whether or not they intend to productize it.
post #16 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaHarder View Post

These could work well for smaller devices e.g. iPod Touch/iPhone, but much less so for larger ones like the iPad wherein the bezel is often used to hold the device.

Yeah, even if they are not always active they won't be much good if your hand is covering up the space where the button is supposed to appear next. Probably this is just another idea that they are patenting so that no one else can patent it first.

The only really useful application I can see of this is if they managed to invisibly hide the standard gaming controls in the top and bottom bezels of the iPhone and iPod touch. It would have almost all the advantages of the PSP gaming phones but still be invisible to those of us that couldn't give a monkey's behind about gaming.
post #17 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchAngel21x View Post

Since when did Jobs turn pro buttons?

Maybe it's a defensive patent...
post #18 of 36
Come on Apple. Add transparent thin-film solar layers onto the display. Onto everything.
post #19 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrike View Post

Come on Apple. Add transparent thin-film solar layers onto the display. Onto everything.

Right, because it's always best to add something that was only demonstrated as "theoretically possible" for the first time a few weeks ago to a wildly popular, already shipping product.

They don't need to think about it, or pay for it, or investigate the claims of the inventors, just add it. Add it now!
post #20 of 36
post #21 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaHarder View Post

These could work well for smaller devices e.g. iPod Touch/iPhone, but much less so for larger ones like the iPad wherein the bezel is often used to hold the device.

That is why they are talking about it as a selective item, developers would have to add it to their apps. And spread out plus lit up so you know the hot spots. It could also be something that is a user option or even turned off if accessibility features are turned on etc.

One thing that is interesting is that there's a home button on those drawings. Rumor has it that Steve hates the home button and wants it moved to a side button. This would, among other things, allow them to either expand the screen area, reduce the bottom bevel or both. Frankly if they were going to do this 'bezel buttons' I would think that removing that button would be mandatory.

Although it is a huge IF since Apple files patents all the time that either don't show up for years or even never show up in an Apple product (but they let Google et al license it).

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #22 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by msechea View Post

So much for claims that the next iteration will have an edge-to-edge screen...

They'll take the iPhone and iPod touch edge-to-edge before they do this.

"Be aware of wonder." ~ Robert Fulghum

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"Be aware of wonder." ~ Robert Fulghum

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post #23 of 36
Everyone is thinking one or two years ahead. Patents like these may never be used or they may come in to play in Apple's road map 5 or 10 years down the road on a product that doesn't yet exist.

It is shown on a currently shipping product for demonstration only. Apple isn't going to show it on a possible future product for obvious reasons.
post #24 of 36
Innovation, Innovation, Innovation... Apple continuing innovation for the better.
post #25 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by nkalu View Post

Innovation, Innovation, Innovation... Apple continuing innovation for the better.

Exactly. I bet apple will come up with some really innovative ideas for the bezzel...like a seach, back and settings buttons.
post #26 of 36
Really like this idea. Game buttons on the iPhone/iPod bezel instead of the screen please.
post #27 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchAngel21x View Post

Since when did Jobs turn pro buttons?

This is a "pre-emptive" move on Apple's part, IMO. I don't believe they will do it, but it would prevent a copycat from doing it.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #28 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Right, because it's always best to add something that was only demonstrated as "theoretically possible" for the first time a few weeks ago to a wildly popular, already shipping product.

They don't need to think about it, or pay for it, or investigate the claims of the inventors, just add it. Add it now!

Hey, don't knock my wishful thinking.
post #29 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacksons View Post

Maybe it's a defensive patent...

If they don't plan on using it, it's not a defensive patent, it's an offensive one.

Apple's already shown they intend to use their patents offensively.
post #30 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

Could, but won't. Apple patents seem to be oozing from the walls right now, but none of them will get used.

Wrong. Apple's large growth in Patents are in fact being used heavily.
post #31 of 36
Wow, apple patents a two display phone. Why not just put the picture of the Nook in the application while you are at it?

What next, patenting the magnetic connector of deep fryers that UL came up with in 2001?

Oh wait, they already did that.
post #32 of 36
Seriously wait until we see a real implementation. That is if a real implementation ever comes. I could see something that is very viable and flexible.

The problem is this isn't a hot priority for me. What I'd rather see is one or two switches along the side of the case implemented as general purpose inputs. These switches would however have a primary purpose, that would be the camera "release" or trigger. As moch as I like my iPhones the thing that drives me crazy is the camera app and using the touch screen to snap a picture. It is a shame because iPhone 4 has an excellent camera for a cell phone.

In the end I don't know what is up with this patent and future "I" devices. All I really know is that Apple has a very long ways to go to prefect the current models.
post #33 of 36
All it needs is a multi-color LED indicator...

Red - Power Low
Yellow - Location-based Alert
Green - Missed call
Blue - New email
Pink - Game request
Orange - New text
Purple - New voicemail

Did I miss anything?
post #34 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Seriously wait until we see a real implementation. That is if a real implementation ever comes. I could see something that is very viable and flexible.

It's pie-in-the-sky speculation. This is the stuff the powers the network of Apple fandom, media, and blogger sites. So, we'll talk about anything as if it is real if it is even remotely related to Apple.

Quote:
The problem is this isn't a hot priority for me. What I'd rather see is one or two switches along the side of the case implemented as general purpose inputs. These switches would however have a primary purpose, that would be the camera "release" or trigger. As moch as I like my iPhones the thing that drives me crazy is the camera app and using the touch screen to snap a picture. It is a shame because iPhone 4 has an excellent camera for a cell phone.

Don't think it will happen (Apple adding more buttons). If anything, Apple may remove another one.

Quote:
In the end I don't know what is up with this patent and future "I" devices. All I really know is that Apple has a very long ways to go to prefect the current models.

Apple, like other big companies, attempt to patent any and ideas they come up with or someone else comes up with. Even if it is a horrible idea. Even if it is a tiny bit of minutia, barely patentable or that shouldn't even be patented.

A robust patent portfolio is a necessary artifact of big business as it is a necessary weapon in its war chest against any and all competitors. The vast majority of these patents are defensive. Apple even has a patent related to the lauded gesture area in the Palm Pre and Pixi!

They are in no way indicative of any future Apple product. Patents for Apple products always happen after the product reveal. Apple even was able to clamp down on the notoriously leaky FCC for radiation testing of their wireless products.
post #35 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by rtm135 View Post

All it needs is a multi-color LED indicator...

Red - Power Low
Yellow - Location-based Alert
Green - Missed call
Blue - New email
Pink - Game request
Orange - New text
Purple - New voicemail

Did I miss anything?

A sticker that we can adhere next to the light so we can decipher its meaning whenever we look at it.
post #36 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

That is why they are talking about it as a selective item, developers would have to add it to their apps. And spread out plus lit up so you know the hot spots. It could also be something that is a user option or even turned off if accessibility features are turned on etc.

One thing that is interesting is that there's a home button on those drawings. Rumor has it that Steve hates the home button and wants it moved to a side button. This would, among other things, allow them to either expand the screen area, reduce the bottom bevel or both. Frankly if they were going to do this 'bezel buttons' I would think that removing that button would be mandatory.

Although it is a huge IF since Apple files patents all the time that either don't show up for years or even never show up in an Apple product (but they let Google et al license it).

I like the physical home button. When holding an iPod touch in landscape orientation you can rest your thumb in it without triggering it accidentally. Apple seems to understand the importance of haptic feedback. They replaced the capacitive buttons on the third generation iPod with a click wheel didn't they?

If they want a seamless surface I could see them making the whole front surface into a click button - like the trackpads on the macbooks and the magic mouse.

Clicks in each of the four corners of the front surface could be set to jump directly to apps determined by the user - similarly to how screen gestures can be set to launch expose in Mac OS X.
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