We’re only on iPhone 6 – iPhone 6 Plus, actually – and speculation is running wild for the iPhone 7, iPhone 8, iPhone 9, and other future iPhones. Some might say it’s too soon to speculate about iPhone 8 and 9, but is it really? iPhone 9 is only a few years away at most.
There are many ways to predict what will be in future iPhones. You could look at the market and see what apps are up-and-coming. You could look at current iPhones and other smartphones on the market. But one of the best ways to predict what is to come is to look at Apple’s patents. Although Apple is a secretive company, it has to list its patents with the US Patent and Trademark Office as public record. Below is based on patent information.
According to patent info, Apple is interested in sidewall displays for its electronic devices. Most likely, sidewall displays means images will appear not only on the front of the device, but also on the sides and edges. The displays could have touch portions, adding extra controls and/or expanding the size of the images on the front. Some sources suggest sidewall displays will include caller ID, lock-screen functions, text messaging display, and more.
Accidentally pushing the physical buttons on the iPhone is a pain. Sometimes you hit it with your finger when you didn’t mean to. Sometimes your keys push the buttons; it’s as if they’re out to get you. Pushing the buttons can “pocket dial” someone, which can be embarrassing. It has even been known to lead to changing the language of your phone, deleting important apps, or reconfiguring items in confusing ways. Patent information suggests that Apple wants to enhance their physical buttons so that it can differentiate between a user’s finger and keys. The patent refers to all physical buttons, but everyone knows the power and Home buttons are the most important in this respect. Apple’s Touch ID home button already uses technology that is similar to the one described in the patent.
On the Move
A different but similar patent wants to help users to more easily use the phone while in motion, such as when users are jogging.
If you’ve ever dropped your phone in a puddle, in the toilet, in the bathtub, or even in the dog bowl of water, you know that it’s almost impossible to get your iPhone working properly again. Hope you got the warranty! That’s why patent information that hints at waterproofing the iPhone is one of the more exciting developments. The trick will be to waterproof the internal components without taking away from the famous minimalist design.
This one doesn’t seem too far off considering LG has already developed a curved-screen phone called the G Flex. It’s likely this will appear before we get all the way to iPhone 9. Still, it’s an interesting concept. It makes you wonder, though, if the curved screen could also be waterproofed.
I don’t know if a flexible iPhone could be waterproofed either, but either way, a flexible iPhone is a pretty cool concept. Imagine how bending the phone in a certain way could open a certain app. Imagine how flexibility could influence gaming control. Imagine how much more durable a flexible phone would be. This one is right up Apple’s alley, because it could change the design of all future phones. Apple likes to set trends; a flexible iPhone could do just that.
With stolen naked pictures of celebrities making headlines, security is still on people’s minds. It’s nice to see, based on patent information, that Apple is listening to consumers and working on this in innovative ways. Apple seems to want to utilize facial recognition, which is a step up from its Touch ID, which uses a fingerprint for security. Along with facial recognition, Apple also seems interested in enhancing the Touch ID, possibly introducing gestures to the Touch ID or moving it to more convenient locations.
Along with securing the phone, Apple seems interested in securing the user. Patent information suggests that Apple wants to develop an emergency services request system built into the iPhone. Somehow, sensors in the phone would detect a situation of distress, including a physical attack or car accident, and it would automatically call for help. In addition to notifying emergency personnel, the feature can be programmed to notify certain people and to use GPS technology.
Enough of that serious security stuff and on to something more fun, especially for gamers. Patents suggest a joystick built in to the Home button. The patent shows a spring that will allow the home button to pop up and be a small joystick.
Many patents are related to iPhone photography. Here’s some brief info the most interesting ones
- The ability to take 3D photos.
- The ability to switch on a “Super Resolution” mode for super res photos.
- Interchangeable lenses on the iPhone camera.
Some accessories related to the iPhone could be game-changers and coming out by the time we get to iPhone 9. Here’s a rundown:
- Smart stylus: It could recognize the device it’s being used on, improving accuracy. It may have its own camera, audio recorder, laser pointer, projector, and other features.
- Health headphones: The headphones track personal health data.
- Smart dock: Ideal for use with Siri, this accessory would be listening for commands, and could be incorporated into your home.
- Solar charging: Apple seems interested in a device that uses a small solar panel to charge its devices.
- Smart case: It’s a case, so it protects the device, but it also connects to the phone to let features be used without “opening” the case. It might also act as a charger.
- Virtual keyboard: Patents suggest this might become a reality in the relatively near future.
- Holographic screen: The touchscreen was cool when it gained prominence, but a holographic touchscreen could be in the works.
With Apple, you never really know. We’re talking about patents that suggest virtual keyboards and holographic screens. The stuff of science fiction is becoming reality. That seems to be what Apple strives for, and why it’s one of the most successful tech companies in the world.