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Apple wants to stick physical keys under the iPhone's screen... some day

Posted: , by Paul.K

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Apple wants to stick physical keys under the iPhone's screen... some day
We've been hearing about Apple's plans to implement a haptic feedback system for quite some time now. The first filed patents we know of date back to 2009, but the Cupertinians have yet to deliver a device toting the system. Haptic feedback is a tech that provides localized vibrations whenever the user touches the screen, in order to better simulate the use of a keyboard, or to enhance app experience.We have heard rumors about the iPhone 6 finally arriving with haptic feedback on board, sources calling it Apple's “secret weapon”, though that remains to be (dis)proven in a couple of weeks.

Now, a tech that is most probably not going to be found in the iPhone 6 has been uncovered in an Apple patent, filed on the 28th of June, 2011. It shows that the company is definitely exploring options to add a physical keyboard-like feeling to the 'lifeless' virtual QWERTY. The patent describes a device that may tote a flexible display, designed to allow physical keys, buttons, speakers, and microphones to be placed under it. Pressing on the screen would make it bend inwards, allowing the user to click the button underneath. To finish off the feel of the press – haptic feedback would be employed to vibrate the area of interaction. Alternatively, the device could be able to have its under-the-screen keys pop up and push out the flexible display in the form of a grid – presumably, to simulate a keyboard. As an extra bonus, the paper suggests that the display will be able to cover up the entire front of the screen – since the Home could easily be hidden under the display, and the patent does describe speakers and microphones to be hidden underneath the display.

Now, this tech is probably far off – a patent doesn't guarantee that the company is ever going to manufacture something. Still, it's an interesting sci-fi-phone idea.

source: USPTO via AppleInsider

  • Options

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 08:58 3

1. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)

I just have a big question mark floating over my head.

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 09:02 2

2. AfterShock (Posts: 3698; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)

Did you switch to Iphone?

I doubt this will ever happen, they want thinner, not robust.

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 14:13

13. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5993; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)

Plus, they want to add to their patent portfolio and limit competitors ability to offer the feature.

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 09:07 3

3. itsdeepak4u2000 (Posts: 3718; Member since: 03 Nov 2012)

Don't spread the question mark over others head.

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 09:09 3

5. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4888; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)


Better late than never?!?

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 09:46 1

7. Iodine (Posts: 1395; Member since: 19 Jun 2014)

Like: "When it will come to android ?"

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 14:50

14. InspectorGadget80 (unregistered)

and why am i seeing a ugly looking curved iphone for?

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 09:09 8

4. fanboy1974 (Posts: 1345; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)

Didn't BlackBerry do this years ago? I believe that the entire touchscreen was a button.

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 09:29 2

6. VZWuser76 (Posts: 4783; Member since: 04 Mar 2010)

They did, it was called SurePress. I almost picked one up as my first smartphone. While the idea sounds good in theory, in reality a standard capacitive touchscreen is much better.

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 12:45

12. JC557 (Posts: 1794; Member since: 07 Dec 2011)

Blackberry did a much better job with the Storm 2 as it had 4 areas of press unlike the the Storm 1 and it's single button action. This made for faster text input and item selection (once you hit the edges on the Storm 1 it felt a little off). It was a shame that the device was kinda behind in web browsing speed, somewhat glitchy OS, long boot times and somewhat muffled voice calls. I also didn't like that I couldn't silence the dial pad tones unless I put the whole device on silent mode which meant no ringtones.

I still have the original Storm as no one wanted to buy it but I did managed to sell the Storm 2 when I moved on to something else.

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 16:27

16. VZWuser76 (Posts: 4783; Member since: 04 Mar 2010)

The one I looked at was the Storm 2. Half of the time the presses didn't register, and speed typing seemed to be out of the question.

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 11:09 1

10. buccob (Posts: 2732; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)

I tried the first BlackBerry Storm from stores and friends and I totally dislike it... the button underneath the screen was centered so the screen would tilt slightly when pressed from the side...

However I ended up buying the Storm 2, and I have to say that I loved that phone... the typing experience was very good for me specially with their predictive keyboard of 2 letters per key "SureType"?. Anyway this second iteration was very good with their piezo electric technology and it was what they should have done in the first place...

This phone was not enough to overcome the failure of the first one and so the SurePress screen was discarded from future devices...

Today I type using the slide option on Google's Keyboard, and to me, thats the best way to type on a capacitive screen, but SurePress with Piezo Electric sensors was second best to me, and then traditional tap typing on qwerty.

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 10:07 1

8. parthoman (Posts: 80; Member since: 18 Aug 2014)

if you want key that badly then why not get a blackberry keyboard device ?

i dont understand people why it has to be apple.

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 10:38

9. refillable (Posts: 1070; Member since: 10 Mar 2014)

That innovation sounds yucky.

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 12:07

11. Genersis (Posts: 219; Member since: 29 May 2013)

Well, at least it's patented, just in case another company tries to innovate with a similar idea.*sigh*

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 15:43

15. izim1 (Posts: 1259; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)

So..... They're patenting blackberry storm tech, basically?

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 20:33

17. jack123 (Posts: 258; Member since: 07 Jan 2013)

wow! that iphone picture just look like deodorant from Old Spice.

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