Apple are famous for patenting every ‘good’ idea they come up with – it is probably a form of insurance, protecting their interests just in case an invention turns out to be valuable. One of the more interesting ideas they have just patented is a pop-up joystick, which people are debating may be destined for use on the next version of iPhone, the iPhone 7.
A touch screen is not an ideal gaming tool for gaming, and a joystick would probably be of real benefit for serious gamers. Apple’s patent describes a Home button containing a spring, and when the button is pressed the centre pops up to form the joystick, but given that Apple’s iPhones are becoming thinner is it really likely that there would be room within the slim profile for a recessed button?
Making use of the Home button
The Home button is where the Touch ID sensor for unlocking the phone and making payments is located, so Apple would need to majorly re-engineer their iPhones to move these functions elsewhere on the phone, which doesn’t sound likely as they currently have a winning formula, so the Home button isn’t actually available to become a joystick. What’s more, the joystick patent mentions including all kinds of other functions in this button, such as a gyroscope, electrical sensor, accelerometer and an ultrasonic sensor.
Apple, in common with many similar companies, often patent ideas that never make it into production and they have patented some wild and wacky ideas before now, including virtual reality headsets, foldable phones, magic pens and other odd looking gadgets and wearables. None of these have ever seen the light of day, so is the joystick another one of these?
Will it happen?
This latest patent has only come to our attention in the last couple of weeks, but it was actually applied for in 2013 which was prior to the time that Touch ID was applied to the iPhone 5s, so it really looks like a ‘just in case’ patent rather than a serious option for the next model of iPhone.
Apple clearly could do it, but would they? At this point in time it seems unlikely, but then anything is possible and if they felt it really was worth all the engineering effort to improve the gaming experience, they may well go for it. We’ll just have to wait and see.