Apple patent shows spring-loaded pop-up home button that doubles as a gaming joystick

An Apple patent spotted by Patently Apple shows a spring-loaded pop-up iPhone home button that acts as gaming joystick when in the raised position. Or, in patent language:

An electronic device includes a surface and a multi-function input device. The multi-function input device is operable in at least a first mode and a second mode. In the first mode, an input portion of the multi-function input device is flush with the surface or recessed in the surface and is operable to receive z axis press input data. In the second mode, the input portion is positioned proud of the surface (i.e., project from the surface) and is operable to receive x axis input data and/or y axis input data. The input portion may also be operable to receive z axis input data in the second mode. In one example, the multi-function input device may have a button mode and a joystick mode.

It’s a fun idea, for sure, but personally I think Apple is more likely to head in the opposite direction over time: to find ways of losing a physical home button and turning it into either a touch-only device, perhaps eventually embedding it into the screen in order to lose the extended bezel at the bottom of the device. Bluetooth gaming controllers, especially with improvements, may better serve serious gamers, regardless.

Are you a gamer who’d love to see this? Or would you rather see Apple working to lose the bezel? As ever, let us know in comments.