The iPhone 15 is now with us and has meant big changes for the device. One of them is the arrival of USB-C instead of Lightning, which completely says goodbye to the Apple ecosystem. Another change is the arrival in the Pro models of the Action Button, the replacement for the hitherto lock/silence switch. Closely linked to this idea of customizable actions is a new patent leaked but filed in April 2023 where it shows a device with touch sides, as if it were a Mac Touch Bar but brought to the iPhone. Apple has been behind this idea for more than 10 years… and now we know a little more.
New Apple patent: Touch Bar on the side of the iPhone
The new patent published is named «Electronic devices with side screens» and this idea already has a long history at Apple. Already in 2011, the Big Apple presented something like this and it was in 2014 when the US Patent and Trademark Office granted them the patent. However, an update was presented in April 2023 (via Apple Insider) which is the concept that led us to this article.
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There are really no significant changes, even in the images, between that 2011 patent and the one presented in April 2023. The concept, without going any further, It is the incorporation of flexible OLED screens (or another type of screen) on the sides of a mobile device. Throughout this article we talk about the iPhone as it is the device most possibly affected by this technology.
The advantages of having a kind of Touch Bar on the side of the iPhone are clear: avoid physical buttons and increase the amount of information and versatility for the user. In the patent we can see how among the options of this touch panel is the incorporation of touch buttons with different functions such as increasing and decreasing the volume. Additionally, relevant information such as playback controls or shortcuts can be displayed. It really is a mix between the Touch Bar that existed on Macs and the new Action Button of the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max.
It is crazy to think about incorporating such a system today, but it is possible that Apple has been thinking for some time about how to integrate screens in places where we had not imagined until now. Will it be the beginning of the foldable iPhone? Or a simple idea that its engineers wanted to patent at the time? Only time will tell.