Will we ever have an iPhone with a side-mounted Touch Bar?: Apple is thinking about it

iPhone Touch sidebar

The iPhone 15 is now with us and it means big changes for the device. One of them is the arrival of USB-C instead of Lightning, which completely bids farewell to the Apple ecosystem. Another change is the arrival in the Pro version of action buttons. This replaces the previous lock/mute switch. Closely connected to this concept of customizable operations is New patent leaked but filed in April 2023 Where is it displayed? Devices with touch screen It’s like the Mac Touch Bar, but brought to the iPhone. Apple has been behind the idea for over 10 years… and now we know a little more.

iPhone 15 Pro Max camera


Apple’s new patent: Touch Bar on the side of the iPhone

The new patent published is called «Electronic devices with side screens» And this idea already has a long history at Apple. Already in 2011 Big Apple introduced it, and in 2014 the US Patent and Trademark Office granted them a patent. However, an update was presented in April 2023 (via via Apple Insider), which is the idea that led us to this article.

iPhone 15 Pro

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There aren’t really any significant changes, even visually, between the 2011 patent and the proposed April 2023 patent. No further work is required on this idea. It is a combination of a flexible OLED screen (or another type of screen) on the side of a mobile device. Throughout this article we will be talking about the iPhone because it is the device that may be most affected by this technology.

iPhone Touch sidebar

What can a touch sidebar offer users?

The advantages of having one Touch Bar on the side of your iPhone are clear: Avoid physical buttons and increase the amount of information and mobility for users. In the patent, we can see that one of the options Another feature of the touch panel is the implementation of touch buttons that provide functions such as volume up and down. It can also display related information such as playback controls or shortcuts. It’s a combination of the Mac’s existing Touch Bar and the new Action button. of iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max

However, space conflict may be real. And imagining an iPhone without buttons is strange. All we can do is imagine what functions this touch bar will have. Some actions might be as follows:

  • Volume and brightness controls
  • Quick navigation between apps, Safari tabs, playlists, or feeds
  • Quick access to applications
  • Multimedia control with a variety of actions
  • Quickly launch Siri
  • Having a quick access control center
  • Camera controls at launch: Quickly switch from photo to video, portrait, etc.
  • Notification control
  • Enabling concentration mode
  • battery indicator
  • Screen rotation control

If we analyze these functions We can see that it is a combination of Status bar with control center The idea of ​​quickly accessing a sidebar like we see today with a single action button might be key to understanding the evolution of this system.

iPhone Touch sidebar

Limitations on the possible evolution of this system.

Because not everything sparkles. We have to take that into account. Integrating the touch screen on the side of the iPhone That can be a good thing, but it can also cause problems on many levels. Plus, considering Apple removed the Touch Bar from the Mac, I’m not sure Apple wants to try again with the iPhone. However, there are pros and cons. In fact, these can be some disadvantages:

  • Accidental touches that may enable unwanted functions.
  • Battery consumption increases, taking into account that the touch bar increases resource consumption.
  • A design modification, especially considering that some things will have to be missing: the power button on the right side or the action buttons and volume control buttons on the left side.
  • Ergonomic changes to the iPhone that can cause problems in using the device
  • Too much customization which can cause confusion among users
  • High production costs considering the integration of new touch panels will significantly increase costs.
  • Technical limitations related to durability and water resistance have been addressed in previous models. And above all, Apple’s consistency and commitment to device design.
  • Fragmentation of the operating system, especially with the addition of new interfaces, can be a problem for developing applications without prior testing by developers, since the iPhone launched in September and iOS beta runs from June to September. This iOS sidebar and interface will be released without user testing.

Finally, a reflection: It’s crazy to think about implementing such a system today. But it’s possible that Apple has been thinking for some time about including screens in places we haven’t even imagined for some time. Could it be the beginning of a foldable iPhone? or simple concept that the engineer wanted to patent at that time Only time will tell.

Photo – Apple Insider

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