The Home button probably isn’t going anywhere anytime soon on iOS devices, especially if a patent application is any indicator.
Apple has stuck to its guns when it comes to the Home button on its iOS devices, with the physical button seeing only an evolutionary turn over the years, including the arrival of Touch ID not too long ago. Now, Apple’s future for the button could include liquid metal. Today, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted Apple with a stack of 40 new patents, one of which outlines how Apple thinks the Home button could be bettered by liquid metal.
As first reported by Patently Apple, the patent application indicates liquidmetal alloys, or “bulk solidifying amorphous alloys,” as it is called in the patent app, are unique in offering corrosion resistance, malleability, and high strength properties while also being lightweight.
With the patent granted to Apple, the company shows how the Home button, infused with liquidmetal, could be used as a pressure-sensitive option. This would mean the physical button would actually deform when it is pressed down, but once the finger is removed, it would return to the previous state. With the use of liquidmetal, the Home button would always return to its normal state.
What Apple would actually use this for, though, remains unknown. Of course, it leaves plenty of room for speculation. It’s not expected that Apple will use this technology in any of its upcoming devices this year, including the iPhone SE, 9.7-inch iPad Pro, the iPhone 7, or the iPhone 7 Plus. Then again, Apple might not ever use this in any of its products, but is simply covering its bases.
Apple has an extended interest in liquidmetal, extending necessary contracts to seal in exclusive rights. Past patent applications have also hinted at Apple’s interest in liquidmetal, so this is one area where Apple doesn’t seem to be giving up attention.
What do you think Apple could do with a liquidmetal Home button?[via Patently Apple]