Apple Wins Patents for Round Apple Watch Interface and New iPhone Case


Another day and another round of patents that Apple has been awarded. This time we get to see a couple of new ideas for an iPhone accessory and a new interface for the Apple Watch.

The new patents were initially discovered by Patently Apple on Tuesday. The first of the pair is a new idea for an “iDevice” case that actually doubles as a stand in a couple of different ways. One of the ideas includes a standard looking kickstand, which would prop up the iPhone while it’s on a flat surface.

There is another sketch in the patent application, though, that seems a bit more robust. This is a more elaborate stand idea for a smartphone, which appears to include support for a keyboard as well. That keyboard would be embedded in the case.

“Apple’s patent FIG. 6A below illustrates a front perspective view of an embodiment of a case that is attached to a back surface of the computing device, with the back surface opposite the display; IG. 6B illustrates a rear isometric view of the case shown in FIG. 6A; and FIG. 7 illustrates a perspective view of an embodiment of a case that can include one or more flexible regions and conductive pathways for operating electrical components embedded in the case #700.”

This patent application was originally filed by Apple back in the third quarter of 2016 and was only published today.

Meanwhile, it appears that Apple has at least at some point in the past worked on the idea of a circular design for a wearable device.

“Pixel arrays often have rectangular shapes. However, rectangular pixel arrays will not fit efficiently within a device having a circular shape. Circular displays can have bottleneck regions in which signal lines become crowded, leading to inefficient use of display area. It would therefore be desirable to be able to provide improved displays such as circular displays or other displays with curved edges.”

As noted in the original report, this is a patent application that was filed only eight months after the original Apple Watch made its big debut, so this appears to be an idea that Apple has toyed around with quite a bit. Whether or not that actually evolves into anything for the consumer remains to be seen.

“Considering that Apple filed for this patent 8 months after the original Apple Watch debuted with its rectangular interface and likely years after the original Apple Watch patents for a watch, Apple’s management gave their engineers this project to work on. So this isn’t a rejected design after the fact, it’s a purposeful engineered solution to make a round interface work for Apple Watch should Apple ever decide to bring this to market.”

It might be worth pointing out that the rumor mill has stated that Apple is building the Series 4 Apple Watch with a “new design”, so it’s possible we could see a couple of different variants launched to market at a later date. Will Apple add a circular Apple Watch to the mix, along with the standard form factor? Would you want that to happen?

Our Take

That iPhone case is pretty wild, but I can’t help but wonder how functional it would be. That has to be a small keyboard after all, and typing on that might not be that comfortable. I can’t imagine wanting to use that instead of the software keyboard on the phone itself.

[via Patently Apple; USPTO]