There are many clues about future Apple products in Apple's patent portfolio. Here, we explore the most exciting of Apple's patents to see what we can uncover about unreleased products, including the iPhone 7, new iPads, the Apple Watch, upcoming Macs and other future tech What is Apple working on behind the scenes? What can we expect from Apple in 2015 and the years to follow? Here, we explore Apple's patent portfolio to find out.
Apple is famously secretive, but like all companies it has to issue a list of patents to the USPTO (United States Patent & Trademark Office) and these provide hints at future and upcoming projects.
Apple is known for its patents, which are detailed but often try to disguise product plans with in-depth technicality. In addition to protecting the company's current product line-up from sneaky copycats, many of those Apple patents outline fascinating technologies that the company is working on or is interested in, and show the direction its products could take in the future.
Here are some key Apple patents that give an insight into the kinds of technology Apple is hoping to use in its future products.
What Apple patents say about iPhone 7
Many of Apple's patents could be applied to future versions of its iPhone, perhaps even the upcoming iPhone 6S or iPhone 7. Here are just a few of them.
Apple iPhone 7 patents: Sidewall displays
Concept by Michael Shanks.
In May 2014, Apple was granted a patent for "Electronic devices with sidewall displays," which, if ever used, could mean our iPhones and iPads may one day have displays around the sides and edges, as well as on the front. The patent suggests that the sidewall displays could be an extension of the main touchscreen, and they could have interactive or touch sensitive portions.
Apple has several ideas about what the sidewall displays could be used for. In some embodiments, Apple suggests that some app icons can be displayed there, or that the displays could be used for slide-to-unlock functionality, music player controls, messaging readout, caller ID, system controls and more.
Samsung has actually released the Galaxy Note Edge, which has a display that wraps around one edge of the smartphone. You can find out more about the Galaxy Note Edge here.
Apple iPhone 7 patents: Accident-free buttons
In May 2014, a patent titled "Configurable Buttons for Electronic Devices" was published by USPTO, describing a touch-sensitive button that could help prevent accidental inputs. The patent covers a physical button that also has a touch sensor, which would know when a user's finger is touching it rather than another object in a bag.
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