iPhones could hide camera and flash in earpiece grille in future models

image Apple status indicator

Patent applications may not be a guaranteed way to find out what’s coming from a company anytime soon, but they can give pretty big hints at what is at least possible. In a new patent application, we could be seeing Apple moving one step closer to a notification light for iPhones.

The patent application, which was recently made public, was first noted by AppleInsider, and outlines how Apple could be toying with the idea of not only hiding the front-facing (or FaceTime) camera behind the earpiece grille, but also a flash. The application, which was filed under the title “Electronic Device with Camera Flash Structures,” outlines how Apple has envisioned the concept, which could ultimately provide a win-win situation for Apple and consumers.

For starters, if Apple is planning on implementing this sort of idea, it could mean that iPhone owners no longer have to see the “black dots” on the top sections of their devices. While the camera is clearly visible at any point of time on either the black or white iPhone, only on the white iPhone is the light sensor easily visible. If Apple introduced this new design for future iPhones, the handsets could look fundamentally cleaner at the top.

More than that, though, is the possibility of the flash within the earpiece grille serving a dual purpose. While it could offer up just enough light for that perfect selfie, it could also mean that the iPhone would gain a feature that has been missing from the very beginning: a notification light. This feature has been widely requested by iPhone users for years, especially as competitor devices have adopted the feature for quite a few years. The iPhone’s current implementation of a notification light means turning the device on its face, and utilizing the camera’s standard flash on the back of the handset, which is far brighter than a notification light probably needs to be. In the patent application, Apple calls it a “status indicator.”

The patent application was first filed back in February of 2013, and the credited inventors are: Lee. E. Hooton and Kelvin Kwong.

[via AppleInsider; FPO]