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

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 35
    cameronjcameronj Posts: 2,357member
    Ugh... that's one thing that I always have hated about Android devices. Hopefully this doesn't happen.
  • Reply 2 of 35
    daharderdaharder Posts: 1,580member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 35
    ghostface147ghostface147 Posts: 1,629member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 35
    Since when did Jobs turn pro buttons?
  • Reply 5 of 35
    ssquirrelssquirrel Posts: 1,196member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 35
    seankillseankill Posts: 556member
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 35
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    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 wouldn?t expect this to be used on the portrait sides of the iPhone or Touch. I?d 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 it?s 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.



    I?m not convinced about the secondary display, but it does ring more true than the display within a display option from the other patent we?ve 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.
  • Reply 8 of 35
    msecheamsechea Posts: 6member
    So much for claims that the next iteration will have an edge-to-edge screen...
  • Reply 9 of 35
    triggstriggs Posts: 28member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 35
    shawnbshawnb Posts: 155member
    I'd settle for a blinking LED for missed mail/messages/calls...
  • Reply 11 of 35
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,361member
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 35
    superbasssuperbass Posts: 688member
    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".
  • Reply 13 of 35
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    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 didn?t get the impression that the touch-sensitive bezel would always be on.
  • Reply 14 of 35
    cvaldes1831cvaldes1831 Posts: 1,832member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 35
    prof. peabodyprof. peabody Posts: 2,860member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 35
    jacksonsjacksons Posts: 244member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ArchAngel21x View Post


    Since when did Jobs turn pro buttons?



    Maybe it's a defensive patent...
  • Reply 17 of 35
    shrikeshrike Posts: 494member
    Come on Apple. Add transparent thin-film solar layers onto the display. Onto everything.
  • Reply 18 of 35
    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!
  • Reply 20 of 35
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,217member
    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).
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