Two new identical documents show a possible Digital Crown on iPhone and iPad in filings by Apple to the US patent office.
Apple filed two new identical patents to the US Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday showing a new way of interacting with iOS devices: an Apple Watch-style Digital Crown.
According to the patent, first noticed by Patently Apple, the new “rotary device” would include haptic feedback to help users feel the motion of the crown similarly to the way the Home button on newer iPhones works.
One of the tricky things about the current Digital Crown as implemented on the Apple Watch is that it doesn’t have any physical feedback. It feels like you’re spinning a smooth dial, which is in fact what’s happening.
With the addition of haptic feedback, Apple could make a rotating crown-like feature more useful on the iPhone or iPad. Along with a noted 3-axis movement area, such a crown could bring entirely new ways of interacting with your iPhone.
The abstract of the patents, numbered 20160378187 and 20160378189, disclose the Digital Crown on iPhone as an electronic device that includes a mechanical input:
“…configured to move in a first direction in response to an input at the mechanical input. A mechanical input sensor is coupled to the mechanical input and configured to sense the input at the mechanical input based on the movement of the mechanical input in the first direction. A mechanical input actuator is coupled to the mechanical input and configured to displace the mechanical input in a second direction, different from the first direction. In some examples, the second direction is orthogonal to the first direction. In some examples, the mechanical input comprises a rotary input configured to rotate in the first direction in response to the input. In some examples, the mechanical input actuator is configured to displace the mechanical input in the second direction while the mechanical input is moving in the first direction.”- US Patent Office
This is just a patent application of course; Apple has a long history of applying for patents that we may or may not see in future devices. It sure is an interesting idea, for sure, though somewhat of a step back in terms of iOS device design language, which has always sought to minimize the number and visibility of physical buttons.
What do you think? Do you want to see a Digital Crown on your iPhone? Let us know in the comments below.