Apple Patent Reveals Touch-Sensitive iPhone Bezel
Apple wants to make the area around the iPhone screen touch-sensitive, according to information revealed in an Apple patent.
"Apple intends to introduce a method that employs a very cool secondary display scheme that utilizes a printed segmented electroluminescence display. Apple intends to use the secondary display to introduce a set of new illuminated indicators that are able morph into various controls for work and play. Illuminated gaming and productivity controls could be built into the face-side of the bezel and/or selected back-side areas of iOS devices like the iPad," the patent reads.
Patently Apple, a site that specializes in combing through Apple patents, reports the feature is called a "Smart Bezel."
So what does the potential new development mean? Well, the bezel (the black area around the display) would be capacitive (touch-sensitive) just like the display itself, making it possible for Apple to put buttons in the bezel. It's similar to the Palm Pre , which has a touch-sensitive bezel as well and can use multitouch gestures in the bezel to control action on the screen.
Not only that, Apple's patent describes how the bezel could be made to glow in places and display different icons, so the button layout could change depending on what kind of app or widget the user is seeing.
But keep in mind that just because it's patented doesn't mean it will show up as a feature in the iPhone 5 — Apple patents many ideas it doesn't use. However, it is interesting to see the company look into alternative interfaces.