Apple Wants to Make Sure Buttons Still Click Even When an iPhone is in a Case

Apple patents a case that makes buttons feel clicky

Apple’s hardware buttons on the iPhone have a satisfying click to them when pressed, but that can get muddied a bit when an iPhone is put in a case.

Well it looks like Apple has spent some time on an idea that might help with that. As was first reported by Patently Apple, the company has had a new patent application published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office this week. It envisions keeping that satisfying clicky behavior, even when the iPhone in question is placed inside of a case. Apple’s solution? Magnet-based.

“Electronic devices are often designed with precise predetermined factors and standard to ensure consistency in user experience. It has become increasingly common for an electronic device to be coupled with an accessory such as a case. An accessory could provide additional benefits in the form of protection, improved appearance, and/or additional functionalities. However, an accessory may also change the operation of the electronic device and sometimes alter the user experience and feeling of the electronic.”

The vision sees a magnet placed inside the button depression of the case, which will press against the top of the button when the case is pressed in to activate that button. As a result, that magnet will create that tactile feedback, which should help to alleviate that “squishy” feeling. Here, just for fun, here’s the way it’s all described via the patent:

“An electronic device, comprising: a housing; an actuator unit carried by the housing; and a tactile compensation unit coupled with the actuator unit, wherein at least a threshold actuation force to the actuator unit depresses the actuator unit, the threshold actuation force defining a minimum force to depress the actuator unit, and wherein the tactile compensation unit includes a triggering unit that forms a magnetic circuit with a triggering magnetic element carried by an accessory device that covers the actuator unit and provides an alteration to the threshold application force, the tactile compensation unit providing, in response to the formation of the magnetic circuit, a compensation force that compensates for the alteration to maintain the threshold actuation force.”

You can see how it looks in the picture at the top of this article.

What do you think of the idea?

[via Patently Apple; USPTO]