Apple is set to shake things up with next year’s iPhone 12. Analysts are already predicting the inclusion of 5G connectivity in every new handset, now the latest leaks suggest that the iPhone X design will be phased out after three years. But Apple’s R&D team are looking far beyond next year’s iPhone to the future, as they update the patent for a wraparound display.
The patent (‘Electronic Device With Wrap Around Display’) is a continuing patent, where the technology is added to a previous patent rather than describing or claiming something completely new. It builds on a previous patent that described a display that wrapped completely round a device.
In the case of this continuation, it details ‘facial tracking software’ to be used in conjunction with the wraparound display. Given the initial patent was filed in 2013, I suspect that a new interaction with the FaceID sensors is in play here, allowing the handset to know which part of the iPhone a user is looking at.
In practical terms this could help an iPhone decide if it should be showing a full ‘homepage’ to a user, it could be used to decide if ‘personal’ information should be shown on a lock screen, or in the case of a phone lying on a desk to determine if a user is looking at the rear of the smartphone and therefore put the notification data at the rear of the device.
It’s probably best not to get too worked up about this technology, and I would find it very surprising if this was to show up in the iPhone 12. Not only would Apple have to overcome a historical reluctance to pack ‘gimmicks’ into its handsets it relies on third party suppliers for screen manufacturing, and there is no sign that the likes of LG Display or Samsung’s Display division are gearing up for an ‘around the phone’ experience.
The futuristic sounding wraparound screen is just that. For the future. In the short term, Apple’s display ambitions are expected to include iterative updates such as bumping the refresh rate on the iPhone 12 up to 120Hz to keep abreast of the Android powered competition.
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