digital-crown-iphone

Not many of you agreed with me when I wrote an opinion piece a year ago saying that I could see a role for an Apple Watch-style digital crown on an iPhone, but a patent application published today shows that Apple is at least toying with the idea of introducing it to iOS devices.

Patently Apple spotted the patent application which shows a ‘rotary input’ device on an iPad …

While I liked the use of the digital crown for ease of scrolling content without covering any of the screen with a finger, the patent talks of using it for such tasks as adjusting the volume and resizing text, with the push-button function doing things like locking/unlocking the screen and taking a photo.

In our poll on the opinion piece, only 16% of you wanted a thumbwheel on an iPhone, 30% of you were a ‘maybe’ while the majority opted for ‘no way.’ Also, as I noted at the time, Apple appears to be headed in the opposite direction, seeking to dispense with physical controls as much as possible. We’ve since seen growing rumors of a touch-only Home button.

Our usual patent disclaimer, then, applies particularly strongly in this case: much as I still see an argument for it, this one probably won’t make it into a real-life product.

One sentence in the patent application also hints at future bezel-free devices.

In some examples, the device may not have a border region and may instead have a surface composed only of touch screen.

The images above were concept renders by Antonio De Rosa, while the more mundane illustration from the patent documents can be seen below.

rotary-input

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.


Check out 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news:

You’re reading 9to5Mac — experts who break news about Apple and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Mac on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel

About the Author

Ben Lovejoy's favorite gear