Apple inc. is (in)famously secretive, however like all companies it has to issue a list of patents to the USPTO ( United States Patent & Trademark Office) and these sometimes provide useful hints about its future products before the are officially unveiled. Apple has always sort ways to play smart by disguising its product patents with in-depth technicalities. Nonetheless, all you need is a little curious and sharp mind to decipher the cryptic messages hidden within these patents. In a long drawn review, techproducts brings you what the future holds for the iphone, drawing conclusions from comments from Apple executives, Apple patents and plain wild rumors. It may not come with the iphone 7 or 7s or there about, but chances are, it will definitely show up in the future iPhone – The Symbolic iPhone X.
iPhone X will be Flexible
Quite a number of smartphone companies are rumored to be either working on bendable or flexible phones or seriously considering the idea of developing one. Apple is not an exception, the company has filed several patents on the possible design of a device with a flexible display and internal components. An Apple patent titled ‘Flexible electronic devices’, with United States Patent Number – 8929085, describes the design of an electronic device ( iPhone x ?) with a flexible display, a flexible housing and flexible internal components – which will be significantly more resistant to damages by bending or deforming to absorb the impact when it hits a hard surface. “Flexible electronic devices may be more resistant to damage during impact events such as drops because the flexible device may bend or deform while absorbing the impact. Deformation of this type may increase the duration of an impact thereby reducing the impulse received by other components of the flexible device” the patent explains. Apart from protection during accidental falls, Users of the iphone x will probably be able to
customize gestures to switch on or off, answer a call, start an app, change volume, or start playing a song or movie by twisting or bending towards a certain direction.This feature is however most certainly not coming with next year’s iPhone 7 or the next due to obvious technicalities of sourcing flexible internal components like batteries, speakers, processors etc.
—-Verdict: less likely.
iPhone X will be Waterproof
Image credit: Macworld.com
More sooner than later, Apple’s iPhone models are all going to be waterproof. A patent spotted in March reveals that Apple is working to make the internal components of the iPhone waterproof using a protective coating, preventing them from being damaged in the event that liquid somehow manages to make its way beneath the the iphone chassis. The patent titled “METHODS FOR SHIELDING ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS FROM MOISTURE” describes ” A method for enhancing moisture resistance of an electronic component mounted on a printed circuit board (PCB) and within an electromagnetic interference (EMI) shield having a plurality of openings, comprising: depositing a hydrophobic conformal coating on an exterior surface of the EMI shield, wherein at least some of the hydrophobic conformal coating passes through at least some of the plurality of openings and forms a moisture resistant coating on the electrical component.” Forget the technical limbo, all the patent is describing is a method to repel water from internal components of the iPhone using hydrophobic materials. Though the particular hydrophobic agent was not specified in the patent, it is likely going to be salts of fatty acids and/or such metals as copper, aluminum, and zirconium; cation- active surface-active agents; and high-molecular-weight organosilicon and organic fluorine compounds. After all is said and done, we are sure of one thing – iPhone X is definitely going to be waterproof.
—-Verdict: highly likely.
iPhone X will be Solar Charged
Image credit: Macworld.com
Yes, you must heard one of those never ending climate change speeches from the UN. Well , Apple executives heard it too, thats why the curpertino based tech giant is going green and is comitted to a safer planet. In a patent filed in 2014 and granted this year, Apple reveals details of a possible plan to fit Solar panels underneath the touchscreen of the iPhone X. Energy storage devices such as a capacitor and a battery will be pumped full of electrical power during the day utilising ambient light and the electric juice will be available for use without the need to plug your phone into a wall socket. The idea is simple – Go Green, Save The Planet.
—-Verdict: less likely
iPhone x will not have a 16GB model
This is bound to happen sooner than later, it may even happen in next year’s iPhone 7 release. Apple is likely to ditch production of 16GB iPhone models for 32 GB , 64 GB and 128GB models. Therefore, the likelihood of an iPhone 7 without a cheaper 16GB model is highly plausible. Even if for some reasons apple decides to continue production of the 16GB model next year, the plan will almost certainly be scrapped in the next iPhone x release. Even the smallest Samsung Galaxy S6 phones offer twice as much storage as Apple’s cheapest iphone, yet still retails at lower price. If Apple is to keep up with its obvious rivals like Samsung in terms of phone storage capacity, offering more phone storage capacity is the next logical thing to do.
—-Verdict: highly likely
iPhone X will have a wrap around screen
Image credit: Michael Shanks / dribble.com
Apple has been considering a rather weird design concept for its future iPhone – a wrap around screen. Details of the design contained in its patent filed on October 24, 2014 and titled Electronic device with wrap around display reveals a design for a consumer electronic product (iPhone x) consisting of at least a transparent housing and a flexible display, with the flexible display assembly being configured to present visual content at any portion of the transparent housing. However, a wrap around display would make the iphone X significantly thicker and eventually defeat Apple’s drive towards slimmer IPhones.
—-Verdict: highly unlikely.
iPhone X will have a panic button
In a patent filed by Apple and titled Fingerprint Activation Of A Panic Mode Of Operation For A Mobile Device with US patent number ‘20150319294’ , details of a panic system aimed at helping an iPhone user during emergencies was revealed. It reveals how the IPhone’s TouchID sensor could be used to activate a panic mode, which would make the handset’s data inaccessible to the user. It explores more interesting ways that the TouchID sensor could be utilized, different from its traditional use for unlocking the device. Among the possible applications of this patented design include – disabling a certain set of functions on the phone, denying access to contact information, emails and photos, or activating the handset’s camera or microphone to document who is trying to use it or what is happening around the device when the phone is unlocked under panic mode.
—–verdict: highly likely.
iPhone X batteries will Last for weeks
I am still trying to wrap my head around how Apple intends to handle logistics for this one, but it surely is a great feature. The company has said it intends to employ ‘fuel cell system’ to dramatically increase the battery life of its devices, this will enable its battery to last for weeks. For the not so nerdy ones ; A fuel cell is a device that converts the chemical energy from a fuel into electricity through a chemical reaction of positively charged hydrogen ions with oxygen or another oxidizing agent .Fuel cells are different from batteries in that they require a continuous source of fuel and oxygen or air to sustain the chemical reaction, whereas in a battery the chemicals present in the battery react with each other to generate aa electromotive force (emf). The problem with feul cell however is that the consumer would have to change fuel cell cartridges periodically and this may become a logistical nightmare if not properly planned. The patent describe a system in which a fuel cell would operate alongside a normal battery, so consumers in theory might be able to opt to
use either power system for their device.
—-Verdict: less likely.
iPhone X will use facial recognition for security pass
Starting from the iPhone 6 to the latest models of the iPhone, Apple has made it possible to unlock its device using the TouchID sensor. Apple is obviously playing around with way cooler ideas like integrating facial recognition features into the iPhone. Late last year (probably December 2014) the United State Patent And Trademark Office (USPTO ) awarded Apple a patent relating to a “personal computing device control using face detection and recognition.” With this patent, it means future iPhones ( iPhone X ) could be unlocked using facial recognition. So effectively, your cute or not so cute face could soon become your security pass.
iPhone X will have no home button
Home buttons are so yesterday, and chances are — Apple is definitely going to ditch the feature in the not so far future. To maximize display area while also maintaining portability, Apple’s future iPhone X will see a drastic redesign both in appearance and purpose of the touch screen panels.
An apple patent dated January 2014, describes a touchscreen display with a fingerprint-sensing layer that could be used to introduce advanced multi-user support. The patent , if introduced into the IPhone’s design could effectively eliminate the need for a custom TouchID enabled home button.
—-Verdict: highly likely.
iPhone X will have a Joystick like home button
This feature totally negates the earlier “no home button” idea, but if Apple decides to stick with the good old home button for whatevery reasons — chances are the home button may evolve into something in the nature of joystick. The patent envisages the possibility of a dual use or multifunctional home button comprising of two operational modes. In the first mode, the Home button retains its standard functionality. In the second mode, the Home Button transforms into a pure gaming joystick. The transition from one mode to the other is rather simple through a pressure sensor that ascertains the amount of force applied and switches functionality to suit intended action. This looks like it could be serious fun for gamers in the future.
In the first mode, when force of 100 to 1000 g is applied to the multi-function Home Button, the multi-function Home Button may depress and the force may be interpreted as a press or button input. When the applied force exceeds the threshold of 1000 g, the multi-function input device may project such that it is positioned proud of the surface, thus switching the multi-function input device to the second mode – a gaming mode where the button acts as a joystick.
Apple’s invention would definitely benefit driving games and games which require much needed precision a joystick could provide. While it’s not a total gaming solution, it will be a nice feature if Apple found a way to retrofit the technology efficiently into their already existing Touch ID circuitry. Weird as the concept may sound at first, iPhone gamers may definitely like the idea.
—-Verdict: less likely
iPhone X will boost a significantly improved camera
One of the most notable area Apple is really trowing its weight on in attempt to improve its iPhone specs is its camera. Apple have strived to provide clearer, more precise and natural imaging abilities with each iPhone release, no matter how mediocre. This means the company would effectively upgrade current camera technologies or replace entirely to make room for better ones.Apple’s iPhone is one of the most popular camera options in the world according to data from Flickr, which has led Apple to focus heavily on camera improvements over the years. In March 2015 Apple was granted a patent for a “digital camera with light splitter”. This patent relates to integrating a technology that consists of a cube that splits received light into three colours: red, green and blue. The cube provides three image sensors, each of which receives one colour ccomponent. This type of technology currently only exist in ‘high-end’ cameras making it possible for them to capture high-quality pictures, with more precise colours, especially if the picture is taken at night. The technology is not entirely new, but the trick would be in the miniaturization of the technology to fit into the iPhone. Currently, Apple’s iPhone are fitted with a camera system with pixels that capture the three component colours that end up occupying only a single image sensor; this means that they can fill only one third of the image sensor and the colours of the overall picture are not as accurate as they could be. If Apple eventually integrates the technology into the iPhone X , future iPhone X owners will get their hands on very high end camera specs only currently offered by the big players.
Image credit: USPTO
—-verdict: less likely
iPhone X will be able to capture 3D photographs
Apple is playing around with 3D illusions too. In the end of the second quarter of this year Apple was granted a patent relating to the design of multispectral imaging process. The patent describes a system which consists of a device built into the iPhone camera that would produce infrared radiation, cast on to the relevant area. A 3D infrared image is subsequently obtained at the end of the imaging process.
Similarly, perhaps to further boost its camera’s 3D imaging capabilities, Cupertino based Apple acquired Israeli imaging technology firm – linX. With multiple apertures, LinX camera modules are able to calculate “ultra accurate sub pixel disparities” between images, letting them create detailed depth maps of a scene. With depth information on a per-pixel basis alongside precise image RGB data , LinX claims its cameras can create 3D point clouds of objects from a single frame or a complete 3D model by combining several frames captured from different angles. Depth mapping like this can let people create 3D scans of objects from simple photographs taken at multiple angles, and it can also determine the size of an object that’s been photographed and its distance from another object It’s not entirely clear how and when Apple will incorporate LinX’s technology into its iphones, but it’s highly possible we could see these types of camera improvements on the iPhone X sooner than later.
In addition an Apple patent published in the fourth quarter of 2013 describes a method of capturing stereoscopic image data, which can be used make a photograph appear to have depth. This development would mean the iphone X could be capable of selecting two suitable photos and combining them to create a stereoscopic image, which replicates the way humans perceive depth to create a 3D illusion.
—Verdict: highly likely.
iPhone X will feature interchangeable camera lenses
Two Apple patent with US patent number — 8638369 , titled — Back panel for a portable electronic device with different camera lens options , filed on December 9, 2010 and another with US patent number —8639106 , titled — Magnetic add-on lenses with alignment ridge and filed on December 6, 2012 presents clues that Apple may be investigating the possibility of making interchangeable iPhone camera lenses. Ok… Quite honestly am not really the photography 101 guy, but what the two Apple patents really ‘rants’ about in technical balderdash is simple — Apple is patenting a way to fit multiple lenses into the iPhone in way that will be possible to intermittently switch between them.
“Therefore it is desirable to be able to change the lenses that are in the optical path to provide specialty optics when desired. It is possible to provide an additional lens, which may be an assembly including multiple lens elements, that works in conjunction with a lens provided by a camera module to provide specialty lens functions.” ….When an additional lens is placed in the photographic light path, it is important that the additional lens be aligned with the optical axis of the lens provided by a camera module to provide good image quality.” This excerpt breifly describes the process of providing an interchangeable specialty lens to the iPhone X camera module.
—-Verdict: less likely
iPhone X will be able to capture refocusable photographs
Apple is also currently working on a technology that will allow users to refocus a photograph after it’s been taken.
The technology is not entirely new and has been used by other smartphone manufacturers like HTC in its HTC One M8. Similar technology is already used in the Lytro camera, with which you can take a photograph and later choose how you want that photo to be focused.