Apple has a huge arsenal of patents at its disposal, filed both in the US and overseas in order to protect the technologies it develops. If you look at a list of Apple patents you will find many weird and wonderful techniques and inventions that it has registered over the years, the majority of which have never actually made it into commercial production.
But you can still use the patent activities of Apple to work out that future iPhone and iPad models will be like well before they have been officially announced.
At the moment the iPhone uses internal gyroscopes and sensors to work out how the device is being held, orienting the screen appropriately based on this information.
But a patent filed in July shows that Apple is looking to use additional information to make this process more accurate.
The technique basically means that the iPhone 6 or its successors may be able to work out which way to orient the screen based on the position of the user’s face. So if you are holding your phone at an angle, but also lying down so that your face is parallel to it, the device will realise this and keep the screen in a portrait orientation rather than jumping unnecessarily to landscape, which is great for bedtime browsing.
Apple acquired a patent from AuthenTec this month, rather than generating the technology itself, which could see the iPhone 6 feature a fingerprint scanner.
Apple has a long history of dabbling with this type of system and the aim is to make the iPhone 6 much more secure than its predecessors, allowing users to unlock it via their fingerprint rather than a pass code or other measure.
Experts also believe that face recognition and even retina scanning might eventually become a core feature of the iPhone range, although this might be some way down the line.
Flexible display and battery
A couple of Apple patents which came to light in early July suggest that Apple is looking into the creation of flexible technology that will allow it to build iPhones which are able to shake off the rigid casings of their forebears and be a little more flexible.
A flexible display and also a flexible battery pack are on the table, although it is worth pointing out that these will likely crop up onboard the much-touted Apple iWatch rather than the next generation iPhone.
The iWatch is thought to have a curved screen by some industry sources, although Apple may not have finalised the design and could, according to certain insiders, not make it to market anyway.
The rise of HTC’s Beats Audio integration has shown that smartphones can have decent speakers and playback capabilities, contrary to previous evidence.
Now a patent filing shows that Apple is just as keen to bolster the speaker performance for the iPhone 6 and its other devices like the iPad.
In short it hopes to make better quality speakers on a smaller scale so that they are viable for inclusion in portable devices.
In spite of the aforementioned scepticism about the launch of the iWatch, there is mounting evidence that this iPhone accompaniment device will be available at some point next year, perhaps coinciding with the iPhone 6 release date in the summer or autumn of 2014.
Most observers believe that 2013 will play host to the iPhone 5S rather than a full revamp of this range, which is in keeping with Apple’s previous release strategies.
The iWatch name was trademarked in Japan recently so Apple is obviously considering it, or at least preparing for all eventualities.
As the list of Apple patents continues to expand, you can be sure that the Californian tech giants aren’t resting at the top. With plenty of idea’s in the pipeline, fingers crossed we’ll see some of these on the upcoming iPhone 6 release date.