Apple experimenting with touchless controls & curved screens for future iPhones

Posted:
in iPhone edited April 2018
Though the technologies are some ways out, upcoming iPhones could make use of touchless gestures and curved screens as distinguishing features, a report claimed on Wednesday.




The approach reportedly differs from concepts like Samsung's Air Gestures or Google's Project Soli, relying on technology built into the display rather than any cameras or motion sensors. The feature won't be ready for at least two years -- assuming Apple chooses to bring it to production. The company regularly experiments with concepts without necessarily taking them to fruition.

Touchless gestures could be particularly useful on an iPhone however, given the limited space for physical or virtual buttons. One conceivable use might be previews when hovering a finger over a photo, video, Web link, or editing timeline.

The report from Mark Gurman at Bloomberg is the latest to reiterate older rumors, and Apple's patent filings from years past. The supply chain was expecting the development as early as 2016, with patent filings on the topic going back five years.

Another source indicated that Apple is working on OLED displays that would gradually curve inward from top to bottom. The approach would differ not only from devices like the iPhone X but the Samsung Galaxy S9, which is primarily flat but does wrap its display over the edges.

Any curved iPhone is liable to be two to three years away, the source said, and could be abandoned before then.

In recent years Apple has sometimes struggled to differentiate the iPhone. In terms of interface, 3D Touch -- launched on the iPhone 6s -- has largely failed to catch on in the way Apple originally envisioned. It remains to be seen how developers will adapt to the 3D-sensing TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X, which is mainly intended for Face ID and animoji.

This year's iPhones will likely focus more on size and spreading the use of OLED. Apple is expected to launch two OLED products, sized at 5.8 and 6.5 inches, and a less expensive 6.1-inch LCD model that would nevertheless have an edge-to-edge screen and TrueDepth.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20


    Another source indicated that Apple is working on OLED displays that would gradually curve inward from top to bottom. The approach would differ not only from devices like the iPhone X but the Samsung Galaxy S9, which is primarily flat but does wrap its display over the edges.

    Any curved iPhone is liable to be two to three years away, the source said, and could be abandoned before then.

    I'm wondering what compelling uses there might be for a curved screen such as the one described here?  I tend not to be very imaginative in this area. 
    jbdragonchristopher126bonobobwatto_cobracornchip
  • Reply 2 of 20
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,479member
    It’s okay to try things, experiment, innovate, but most of this stuff will never make it to market because it just doesn’t do anything to make the user's life better. 
    dysamoriajbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 20
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,276member
    lkrupp said:
    It’s okay to try things, experiment, innovate, but most of this stuff will never make it to market because it just doesn’t do anything to make the user's life better. 
    I have to agree. A curved display is little more than a gimmick for a phone (honestly, I find it little more than a gimmick for a TV, too,) and it would cause other manufacturing issues. As far as hovering your finger over the screen to do something, I already have problems accidentally touching the screen when my finger gets too close. A proximity touch would just be annoying! The other issue I can see is they would complicate the interface, making it more difficult to use.
    dysamoriajbdragonbonobobwatto_cobracornchip
  • Reply 4 of 20
    peterhartpeterhart Posts: 131member

    In recent years Apple has sometimes struggled to differentiate the iPhone. In terms of interface, 3D Touch -- launched on the iPhone 6s -- has largely failed to catch on in the way Apple originally envisioned. It remains to be seen how developers will adapt to the 3D-sensing TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X, which is mainly intended for Face ID and animoji.

    I'm disappointed that 3D Touch did not catch on; I have all the apps that support those shortcuts on my main screens and I use many of them daily. I wonder if Apple will kill off that gesture/feature in the coming years...the capacitive sensors are integrated directly into the display, so how lucrative is continuing to do that, I wonder?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 20
    My friend’s BMW has some touch-less controls. The one I remember is he can hold his index finger out and draw circles with it in front of the in-dash display to either increase or decrease the volume, depending on which way the circles are ‘drawn’.  It’s kinda neat but goofy at the same time and he says he doesn’t use it except to show people.

    I can’t really see how hovering my finger over the phone display to get a preview would be THAT much better than simply pressing the screen, but maybe in practice it’s different. And, as @beowulfschmidt mentioned, I lack the imagination to find the benefit in an inward curved display. Privacy maybe?
    edited April 2018 watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 20
    irelandireland Posts: 17,751member
    If this doesn’t pan out just remember we said Apple might change their plans. We cannot be wrong!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 20
    FolioFolio Posts: 698member
    Seems like gesture-reading and curved screens would better fit HomePod. And when you add that to boosted AI agent, more ambient easy ways to connect = good. So I hope anyway.
  • Reply 8 of 20
    fred1fred1 Posts: 835member
    I have to agree with my esteemed colleagues.  Features like these seem like nothing more than an attempt at being *different* instead of *better*.  I put them on the same level as say, a phone that spins around when it rings or the ability to choose black and white mode. 

    How about a phone with much better battery life, or one that can be upgraded to the latest OS after more than three years?  
  • Reply 9 of 20
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,030member


    Another source indicated that Apple is working on OLED displays that would gradually curve inward from top to bottom. The approach would differ not only from devices like the iPhone X but the Samsung Galaxy S9, which is primarily flat but does wrap its display over the edges.

    Any curved iPhone is liable to be two to three years away, the source said, and could be abandoned before then.

    I'm wondering what compelling uses there might be for a curved screen such as the one described here?  I tend not to be very imaginative in this area. 

    There might not be. R&D in this area seems like it would be better suited for a million other product categories before being used on a smartphone.
  • Reply 10 of 20
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,297member
    peterhart said:

    In recent years Apple has sometimes struggled to differentiate the iPhone. In terms of interface, 3D Touch -- launched on the iPhone 6s -- has largely failed to catch on in the way Apple originally envisioned. It remains to be seen how developers will adapt to the 3D-sensing TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X, which is mainly intended for Face ID and animoji.

    I'm disappointed that 3D Touch did not catch on; I have all the apps that support those shortcuts on my main screens and I use many of them daily. I wonder if Apple will kill off that gesture/feature in the coming years...the capacitive sensors are integrated directly into the display, so how lucrative is continuing to do that, I wonder?
    I love 3D Touch and use it all the time. I hope Apple doesn’t abandon it.
    cornchip
  • Reply 11 of 20
    peterhart said:

    In recent years Apple has sometimes struggled to differentiate the iPhone. In terms of interface, 3D Touch -- launched on the iPhone 6s -- has largely failed to catch on in the way Apple originally envisioned. It remains to be seen how developers will adapt to the 3D-sensing TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X, which is mainly intended for Face ID and animoji.

    I'm disappointed that 3D Touch did not catch on; I have all the apps that support those shortcuts on my main screens and I use many of them daily. I wonder if Apple will kill off that gesture/feature in the coming years...the capacitive sensors are integrated directly into the display, so how lucrative is continuing to do that, I wonder?
    I love 3D Touch and use it all the time. I hope Apple doesn’t abandon it.
    Agreed. I use it daily without even thinking about it. I’m positive there are many current uses of 3D Touch that I don’t use, but the ones I use I use frequently. If it’s removed I’d miss it. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 20
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,030member
    peterhart said:

    In recent years Apple has sometimes struggled to differentiate the iPhone. In terms of interface, 3D Touch -- launched on the iPhone 6s -- has largely failed to catch on in the way Apple originally envisioned. It remains to be seen how developers will adapt to the 3D-sensing TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X, which is mainly intended for Face ID and animoji.

    I'm disappointed that 3D Touch did not catch on; I have all the apps that support those shortcuts on my main screens and I use many of them daily. I wonder if Apple will kill off that gesture/feature in the coming years...the capacitive sensors are integrated directly into the display, so how lucrative is continuing to do that, I wonder?
    I love 3D Touch and use it all the time. I hope Apple doesn’t abandon it.
    Agreed. I use it daily without even thinking about it. I’m positive there are many current uses of 3D Touch that I don’t use, but the ones I use I use frequently. If it’s removed I’d miss it. 
    On the iPhone I think I'm mostly using it on th keyboard to move the cursor around. I wouldn't want that feature to go away. On the Watch it's how I access extra options for most apps.
    edited April 2018 watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 20
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    Oh, for the love of... No, no, no.
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 20
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    peterhart said:

    In recent years Apple has sometimes struggled to differentiate the iPhone. In terms of interface, 3D Touch -- launched on the iPhone 6s -- has largely failed to catch on in the way Apple originally envisioned. It remains to be seen how developers will adapt to the 3D-sensing TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X, which is mainly intended for Face ID and animoji.

    I'm disappointed that 3D Touch did not catch on; I have all the apps that support those shortcuts on my main screens and I use many of them daily. I wonder if Apple will kill off that gesture/feature in the coming years...the capacitive sensors are integrated directly into the display, so how lucrative is continuing to do that, I wonder?
    I find that it interferes with regular taps. About 35% of my taps are ignored in general on my iPhone 6s. Some of them are clearly registering as pressure, which explains why they fail, but it doesn't explain the rest.

    Reading that Apple is considering hover gestures... Please no. Stop overcomplicating this shit, Apple. There are already too many conflicting and hidden gestures, tiny tap areas, and hidden controls... Going backwards since 2013.
    bonobob
  • Reply 15 of 20
    slprescottslprescott Posts: 763member


    I'm wondering what compelling uses there might be for a curved screen such as the one described here?  I tend not to be very imaginative in this area. 

    Example #1:  In a cookbook application -- where your hands are covered in food -- turn pages with  touchless gestures.

    Example #2:  If Apples releases AR/VR headgear, use touchless gestures to navigate through the 3D world.
  • Reply 16 of 20


    I'm wondering what compelling uses there might be for a curved screen such as the one described here?  I tend not to be very imaginative in this area. 

    Example #1:  In a cookbook application -- where your hands are covered in food -- turn pages with  touchless gestures.

    Example #2:  If Apples releases AR/VR headgear, use touchless gestures to navigate through the 3D world.

    Those are with regard to the touch-less nature of the screen.  My query was about the curved screen.  I can see some utility on a desktop monitors, where viewing angle might become an issue with larger panels, but on a hand held?  Don't get me wrong, pretty much any research is good, as it will likely produce useful results, even if that result is "this isn't good for anything profitable."  I just don't see what this will improve for phones.  Like I said, I'm not always imaginative enough to see these types of things.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 20
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,735member
    Curved screen: meh. I don't see the benefit. Touchless gestures. Okay as long as I can turn them off. I lost some tactile precision in my fingers after chemo. It's tough enough to hit the thing on the screen I want. I really wouldn't want to deal with my fingers unsteadily hovering above the screen triggering things.
    edited April 2018 watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 20
    kruegdudekruegdude Posts: 340member

    So, when I shoot the finger at the display it automatically registers a negative review for the current app. Or maybe Siri will pop up and ask me if I’m having a bad day. Sweet. 

  • Reply 19 of 20
    slprescottslprescott Posts: 763member


    I'm wondering what compelling uses there might be for a curved screen such as the one described here?  I tend not to be very imaginative in this area. 

    Example #1:  In a cookbook application -- where your hands are covered in food -- turn pages with  touchless gestures.

    Example #2:  If Apples releases AR/VR headgear, use touchless gestures to navigate through the 3D world.

    Those are with regard to the touch-less nature of the screen.  My query was about the curved screen.  I can see some utility on a desktop monitors, where viewing angle might become an issue with larger panels, but on a hand held?  Don't get me wrong, pretty much any research is good, as it will likely produce useful results, even if that result is "this isn't good for anything profitable."  I just don't see what this will improve for phones.  Like I said, I'm not always imaginative enough to see these types of things.
    You're right, I misread your question.  Sorry.

    Re: curved-inward screens.... a long-shot possibility is the glass windows of a future Apple Car?  If Apple wanted to build display technology into the windshield or side/rear windows, possibly those glass surfaces would be curved?  But I'm sure this use-case goes way beyond the article that triggered this thread, so I'm just thinking more broadly.
    cornchip
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