There’s no denying that with the iPhone 8 or whatever 2017’s model ends up being called (iPhone 10?), Apple needs something drastically different, and some changes to a previously filed patent just might fit the bill. While the company frequently patents technology and then doesn’t do anything with the patents, the fact that this one has been undergoing some changes over the year suggests that perhaps the company is planning on using it.
Apple keeps tweaking this patent
Patently Apple uncovered a patent for a flexible liquid-metal device with curved sapphire glass in 2013. At the time, the patent described a fully redesigned iPhone form factor made from liquid metal that could look like a sheet of glass. The patent also described the device as having “rotational motion detection” and enabling users to scroll through something on their device by using gestures on the back of the device.
In January 2016, Apple tweaked that patent a bid, and then it received a patent for the new invention in August, according to Patently Apple. The website states that the basic foundation of the patent listed on the “detailed description” section hasn’t changed throughout the tweaking process, and neither have the figures included in the patent. Apple has apparently been tweaking the claims it makes in the patent, which the website explains is the most important section of the document when it comes to defending it in court.
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Apple certainly can’t be too careful with the new technology if it is planning to use it for the iPhone 8 or later, given all the patent battles it has had with Samsung. The two companies have made a virtual sport out of suing each other over patents in courtrooms all over the world. Truly, the whole world is a stage for them.
Space-age tech for the iPhone 8?
According to Patently Apple, the version of the patent which is dated August describes an iPhone with a structure that “comprises of a hollow curved crystalline display cover having a curved interior surface that wraps continuously around a cavity.” The patent has been updated again today however, and now instead of a hollow display, it describers “an electronic device, comprising: a transparent display cover structure that wraps around an axis of the electronic device.”
Today’s version also includes a “flexible display layer that wraps around the axis of the electronic device to cover an interior surface of the transparent display cover structure.” The display also covers “control circuitry that gathers sensor data indicative of a rate of rotation of the electronic device about the axis and that changes content that is displayed” on the flexible display as the device is turned. Patently Apple states that the word “transparent” isn’t in the August patent, but it has been added eight times in today’s update to the patent.
Will the tech be ready for the iPhone 8?
In short, we have what sounds like an iPhone with a curved, wrap-around display covering some incredible sensors that can change the contents on the device as it’s moved. It certainly sounds like technology that would blow the doors off the smartphone industry, especially if the company can have it ready next year for the iPhone 8. Next year is an important one for Apple because it’s the tenth anniversary of the iPhone. However, it’s unclear whether it’s even possible to get such technology ready for mass production in less than a year’s time.
After all, we’ve been hearing rumors about a curved glass display for a long time. But then again, it seems that the rumors have picked up steam this year and gotten more specific. And if Apple can pull it off, perhaps investors would finally understand why the company’s research and development costs have gone through the roof over the last several years.