back to article End of buttons? Apple looks to patent animating iPhone sidewalls

Apple has filed for a patent on technology to put small displays in the sidewalls of a smartphone. The documents submitted by the company to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) describe a device which uses a flexible screen capable of being bent around the corners of the casing. The bent screen, according to Apple, …

So nothing at all like the Samsung Youm prototypes shown last year!

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Silver badge

No, nothing like Youm

Youm only showed a display wrapped around the edge. No haptics, no virtual buttons, nothing like that.

Besides, the filing date was three years ago, long before Youm was shown.

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Re: No, nothing like Youm

"Youm only showed a display wrapped around the edge. No haptics, no virtual buttons, nothing like that."

Looking at the pictures, I'd have to disagree, on the buttons, at least. I see lots of icons positioned on that roll-off part of the screen and I think I even saw a scroller in one pic. You could say an icon is different from a button, but I say if you press it to do something, I hear it quacking.

Besides, in the realm of obviousness, who'da thunk a screen curving over the edge of a phone could be incorporated with a touchscreen to be used for various inputs!? How innovative!!!

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Holmes

Re: No, nothing like Youm

What? Putting a screen on a different side of a phone! That's never been done before - a true invention!

Fanbois rejoice at the innovation crushing the heathen fandroid scum!

--

Every time I see something like this in the patent pile, another little part of me dies and I see the fall of Western civilisation coming closer.

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Re: No, nothing like Youm

No, the filing date for this patent was this year. There are related documents filed in 2011, but they aren't for this concept. Sorry. Samsung got there first.

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Anonymous Coward

A virtual

A virtual patent of a virtual phone in a virtual world.

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One week later:

http://www.androidauthority.com/samsung-galaxy-note-edge-hands-519646/

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Happy

This could be a good thing

If they start putting displays on the side of the phone, this will remove, or at least mitigate, the "requirement" of ever-thinner phones. Maybe Apple will put in a real, beefy, battery to use some of the space, and actually have a decent span between charging.

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Re: This could be a good thing

I doubt they're talking about the display on the side of the phone being something you're supposed to be able to read, more like it would show you were the virtual "buttons" for stuff like volume etc. were (with haptics making them feel like buttons so you don't have to look for them either)

Maybe you could set it to flash different colors for different types of alerts so you could keep it face down during a meeting but see from a red flash that the boss is calling or something, to avoid the constant distractions of people checking their phone because their friends are carrying on a long group text conversation about the weekend's upcoming football game (not that this happened to me during a meeting yesterday lol)

So they won't make it thicker for this, it isn't like it will show a stock ticker wrapping around the edge of the phone.

The larger iPhones should have increased battery life, simply because the larger the phone the internal volume increases greatly since the "guts" remain the same size, so there's a lot more room for battery. The screen grows larger but the screen is only a small part of the battery draw. Even if they make the iPhone 6 thinner I expect we'll also see more battery life, unless they make it under 5mm thin. As it is, it is very rare I run out of battery before bedtime with my iPhone 5 so I guess I don't see it as a big deal like some do.

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Re: This could be a good thing

Hang on, the screen is the largest power drain on ALL smartphones, I would double check your assertion that having more battery space behind the screen is going to equal more battery life..

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Angel

Re: This could be a good thing

Maybe even a user-replacable battery?

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Re: This could be a good thing

@Fluffy Bunny

"Maybe even a user-replacable battery?"

Shut your mouth!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This could be a good thing

"The screen grows larger but the screen is only a small part of the battery draw."

WTF? The screen is possibly the largest source of battery draw.

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@masterofobvious

Where do you get that idea? Try running LTE speedtests repeatedly and compare with just leaving your screen on doing nothing, see how quickly the battery drains under both scenarios, and tell me again how the screen is the biggest power draw.

This is simple math, because if you increase the screen's area by 50% you also increase the phone's volume by 50%. Before that 50% increase, the electronics take up x and the battery 1-x. The chips and radios don't take up more room just because the screen is bigger, so the electronics still take up x and the battery now has 1.5-x available to it. So if x=0.5 and the battery took up half the volume before, the battery will double in size and now take up 2/3 the volume with the bigger screen.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

Re: This could be a good thing

"Maybe Apple will put in a real, beefy, battery to use some of the space, and actually have a decent span between charging."

Of course it could still be better but the iPhone seems to me to have some best-in-class battery life. When I go out with friends all our phones start out near 100% and at the end of the day/night of us all doing more or less the same stuff, my iPhone has more charge than my friends' Android phones (and in some cases Windows Phones).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @masterofobvious

"Where do you get that idea? Try running LTE speedtests repeatedly and compare with just leaving your screen on doing nothing, see how quickly the battery drains under both scenarios, and tell me again how the screen is the biggest power draw."

Well, obviously in that case the radio will be the biggest power draw... but you can't possibly be so stupid to think that that's a typical usage scenario.

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Re: @masterofobvious

That's an extreme example, sure, but I find my phone burns through battery WAY quicker when I'm using cellular data than when I'm using wifi, and WAY more quickly on a call (with screen dimmed or off) then when I'm simply using the phone at home (i.e. screen on, using wifi)

Maybe whatever phone the guy I was responding to uses has a very inefficient screen, but I certainly don't see that on my iPhone 5. Yes, granted it is a smaller screen, but bumping to 4.9" inches for a 50% screen area increase would still leave calls taking more battery than wifi use with screen on. Probably if I had a monster 6" phone the screen (being 125% larger in area) would become dominant over calls, but I can't see any way it could ever become dominant over cellular data considering how much battery that uses. But of course, if I had a 6" phone the battery would be at least 3x larger at equivalent thickness!

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I don't see it working

Firstly, it prevents you from putting it in a case. Secondly, with physical buttons, you can use them without looking at them once you are familiar with your handset. Thirdly, how do you hold such a phone without it doing a load of things you don't want it to do?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't see it working

A case? Apple didn't make an iPhone to be put in a case! The logo and sculpted magnificence must be visible to the world at all times!

How dare you question the Apple overlords. Guards! Away to the Tower with him.

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Re: I don't see it working

With my current phone, I can adjust the volume when out walking, with the phone in its case, in my pocket. I can feel the "lump" of the buttons through the leather case and can push them... If they were resistive, then I wouldn't be able to push them, even if I managed, through blind luck, to press on the right position...

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Re: I don't see it working

"No, officer. I wasn't playing with myself as I passed by the school entrance. I was merely adjusting the volume on my iPad."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't see it working

> Thirdly, how do you hold such a phone without it doing a load of things you don't want it to do?

Elementary. You pull out the battery first.

Oh... wait a min.... :(

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Bronze badge

Re: I don't see it working

> Thirdly, how do you hold such a phone without it doing a load of things you don't want it to do?

Exactly my thought. You wouldn't be able to even **hold** the phone. Not that I'd ever be holding a whyPhone for any time longer than it takes to move it out of my damned way. Liking my feature/flip phone more and more.

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Trivia

This kind of trivial "innovation" is the most annoying aspect of current so-called IP protection. What the hell is so novel about putting a display on the side of something, rather than just the front (or back)? This kind of thing is just the kind of simple solution to a problem that any halfway competent engineer should be able to dream up.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Trivia

Ah, but this is Apple trivia so competent engineers don't enter the picture.

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@ Credas - Re: Trivia

. . . on a mobile device. . .

yawn.

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Anonymous Coward

A bendable LG display c/w Bullshit

Apple Meeting.

"Oh look, Samsung and LG make bendable touchscreen displays. Quick guys, lets have a go at patenting the sides of them all. We got that good crap passed by the USPTO last time so this shit is a piece of piss.

OMG , I wish I could see Samsung and LGs faces when they see we got this patented on what are their screens"

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Not at all like

ALL of the fan prototypes from the last year or so.

First stumbled accross from google: https://dribbble.com/shots/1191226-Iphone-6-Wrap-Around-screen

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not at all like

EXACTLY like that!!! Spooky eh? Only Apples submission predates that fan prototype by three years.

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Re: Not at all like

Awww, diddums.

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Bronze badge
Facepalm

More prior art patent BS

The US patent system looks rather like a toxic idea waste dump and state mafia protection racket.

How very unoriginal of that worm ridden rotting fruit, and it is a stupid set of ideas idea because

* touch screen side buttons will prevent use of even a clear elastomer "bumper" band

* a case may not be practical, or look ugly, offer far less shock protection on the sides, and be liable to break easily

* side touch screen button are so very stupid, because they will not be tactile /before/ use, to find and press like mechanical buttons, and could be a difficult to press precisely given how small they will have to be; audio feedback and haptics there will be too late, so quite pointless!

Samsung are killing Apple for display tech, ideas, and product, which is why scared Apple were so very nasty in court. e.g. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S models seriously mock the current iPADs, my 10.5" one is wow better at £330!

Android is winning; Apple is hyped, but boring and bla as BMW.

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…and THIS new API fills up literally every lateral surface on a user's device with YOUR ad banners.

(Please do not use it to replace virtual volume button interfaces as this will result in deceived, frustrated users constantly clicking your banners by mistake, wasting their own bandwidth on your ads, and generating massive ad clickthrough.)

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So if you lay the display flat then

it is just the same as side bars?, if they had at least given them a tactile effect employing high density solenoid controlled pins instead of yet more wasted displace space then that would have been novel and something the blind could have used to good effect.

The infinite texture concept has been donated to the public domain so too late apple don't both stealing this one

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Gimp

Ah, right.

That explains this, then. I did wonder.

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Re: Ah, right.

"That explains this, then. I did wonder."

No.. Nothing explains that. Give a vomit warning next time. PR fluff overload..

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Holmes

Re: Ah, right.

Oh dear, did *not* think I'd need the joke icon for that one...!

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Re: Ah, right.

"That explains this, then. I did wonder."

"I do hope the iPhone 6 has lots of gimmicky features. I feel confident that it will."

I'm confident that us(lus)er won't be dissapointed... :-)

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Silver badge

Fuck Off!!

"The *documents* submitted by the company to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) describe a device which uses a flexible screen capable of being bent around the corners of the casing."

http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PG01&s1=20140240289&OS=20140240289&RS=20140240289

I mean.. there might be some 'sensible' Americans about on Reg but Apple and the American Patent System goes beyond the pale.

Patents are not a pre-emptive guess or 'what if wet' dream based on what you think others might be working on and possibly vaguely realising or stuff that is already known. It should be 'provable and likely to be deliverable tech' by yourselves.

United States Patent Application 20140078240290

"We envisage a nuclear fusion machine for an initial trip to Alpha Centauri based on guesses about what everyone else is doing extrapolated to their possible success in order to sue them in a USofA court some time in the future because we did fuck all but they stole our dreams off of us.

Our invention will now be described with reference to Figure 1)

Figure 1) demonstrates a nuclear fusion machine with curved corners, in this case provisioned as a propulsion device for an initial trip to Alpha Centauri. a), haptics b), oled displays and c).1-4), leds are curved around the corners. We will work out how to do that shit once someone else implements it.

Figure 2) demonstrates some other made up bollocks we dreamed up and will rely on someone else implementing it first because it seems possible they might do so and then we can rape them in a US court.

Figure 3) demonstrates some other made up bollocks we dreamed up and will rely on someone else implementing it first because it seems possible they might do so and then we can rape them in a US court.

Figure 4) demonstrates some other made up bollocks we dreamed up and will rely on someone else implementing it first because it seems possible they might do so and then we can rape them in a US court.

-

-

Figure n) demonstrates some other made up bollocks we dreamed up and will rely on someone else implementing it first because it seems possible they might do so and then we can rape them in a US court.

As will be apparent to 'those skilled in the art' your arse is now ours in respect of Nuclear Fusion Machines for an initial trip to Alpha Centauri and Kettles including other Nuclear Fusion stuff plus all other tech or normal daily stuff already in existence or you may be thinking about improving and anything else.

All Prior Art, and everything else prior and in the future, is ours.. Sucks to be you"

Meanwhile 'American Chopper' is having a Barney over how to bend Ghost Riders latest set of 'down pipes'..

"No Seriously Man. You have to let me weld them from square steel sections with square corners."

"No Shit! Why have I got these pipe benders!?

"Sir, you really need to trust me on this one."

"Get out of here. You Are Fired."

-

-

"Hello.. Is my Motorcycle finished?"

"Just fitting the last piece Mr Ghost Rider."

"Hello.. You have been served."

"What The Fuck! is this Mr Suit?"

"I would advise you take legal advice in respect of my client's previous claim of all things curved. This Motorcycle is now Impounded."

"It's my Motorcycle!"

"Perhaps you should take legal advice as well Sir."

"It's my Motorcycle. Bought and paid for. Look into my eyes."

-

-

"Oh My God! You just Killed Ghost Rider!!1!!"

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Happy

Good. That's a horrible idea. Now I don't need to worry about encountering it on an Android phone.

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I cannot be just me thinking that a patent on an idea that has been dreamed up but not even prototyped is should be a complete waste of ink.

And, if you are patenting an invention, there has to be some actual INVENTION to it - combining or barely extending existing concepts is not invention.

Screens? Check. Curved screens? Also check. Soft/virtual buttons? Check. 'Haptic feedback'? Check. Obviousness and prior art? Check and check!

And what's all this about 'virtual buttons' anyway? The very purpose of a touch screen is for virtual buttons. You press a bit of the screen and an action happens. The screen can be arbitrarily reconfigured to show buttons of whatever size, shape, colour and function is required, from check boxes or scroll bars to giant, red, 'do not touch me' affairs. Volume controls, play buttons - wow, it's all so innovative.

Even removing the touch aspect, what is my 'Start' button on Windows but a 'virtual button'? Adding a touch screen doesn't suddenly turn a collection of pixels into a new and amazing invention and neither does positioning those pixels on a different side of a device.

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Anonymous Coward

Not impressed

Haptic feedback is one thing but doesn't replace the tactile sensation of having actual buttons that you can feel and orient yourself to before pressing them.

It seems like an interesting idea to have "dynamic" buttons on the side of the phone for e.g. media playback or some camera controls, but then you have to look at the side to see where the buttons are and what they do, and by the time you do that, you might as well have just used the main screen to do the same thing.

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Everyones saying..

But you won't be able to feel the buttons.

Didn't apple recently patent a system for making screens emulate the feeling of textures and shapes?

I don't recall the tech wizardry behind it. But couple that with a side screen, I think it could actually work. Although it would be far from perfect. I guess instead of a press, once your finger has located the "button" you want you'd have to hold your finger there for a second or two before the phone accepts it as a press and not just a finger fumble.

Messy, but not entirely impossible.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Everyones saying..

> Didn't apple recently patent a system for making screens emulate the feeling of textures and shapes?

There are thirty million patents about that, some over a decade old.

Not a single fucking implementation though.

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Anonymous Coward

Patents and Copyright should be scrapped (Trademarks are ok though)

This is one example of why patents and copyright should be scrapped, they do not (as some people believe) protect the inventor so that he can reap the benefits of his new invention, they are soley to protect the interests of a select group at the expense of everyone else.

If you write a wonderful new book/piece of music (possibly using a new (non-derivative) character set or set of never before heard sounds) and you don't want anybody else to benefit then keep it to yourself.

If you invent a (non-derivative) new machine and you don't want anybody utilising your ideas, then keep it to yourself.

Will this put a dampner on any new stuff ?

No.

If I come up with something new then I have first user advantage, anybody I choose to share this idea with will be subject to contract of non-disclosure.

Most 'new' ideas are derivative and time dependent, if Edison hadn't invented the lightbulb when he did then someone else would have done (or allegedly did)

The USA got to be a world leader in innovation by ignoring GB patents, Japan did likewise, China also.

Once a country matures, vested interests move to ensure patents are upheld to stop newcomers utilising the advantages those interests used in the first place.

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WTF?

Its just a button!

Sorry but this is just technology for the sake of it. How many buttons do you need to operate a phone that is optimised for touch.

On/Off (not that they acutally ever switch off and possibly volume. With physical buttons the nice rubber case gives me a ridge that can be found in a pocket. I know what I am pressing. Of course all the Apple fanatics will go complely bonkers and put this on the same level as re-inventing God.

The edge and in particular the corners are the most vulnerable to damage and general wear-and-tear.

It is just a button.

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Apple patent the obvious and existing again

Once again Apple issue a patent for something that its competitors have not only already thought of but actually implemented.

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I can't believe "you're holding it wrong" hasn't been brought up yet....

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Anonymous Coward

Light dawns

Now that Samsung has shown off its Galaxy Note Edge with a screen that wraps over the side if the unit Apple's reason for applying for this patent becomes clear.

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