New in OS X: Get MacRumors Push Notifications on your Mac

Resubscribe Now Close

iPhone Home Button That Transforms Into Gaming Joystick Shown in Apple Patent Application

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today published an Apple patent application revealing the company's interest in an iPhone or iPad home button that transitions form its normal functionality into a small joystick for gaming (via Patently Apple).

The "multi-function input device" would serve its normal home button functions, ostensibily with Touch ID and all other current features, but with a simple pressure click would pop up and transform into a slightly elevated thumb joystick.

home_button_joystick
Home button mode (left) and joystick mode (right)

A simple push of the elevated home button back into a flush position with the body of the iPhone would return it to its original state when done gaming. Diagrams included in the application show a very low-profile joystick , allowing for some level of physical control while being much smaller than traditional game controller joysticks in order to fit into the thin bodies of iOS devices.

Apple's claims within the patent application note some gamers' hesitancy to play seriously on a smartphone due to the entire set of controls resting on the screen, with their fingers blocking a significant portion of the game's content. The company thinks a built-in solution in form of this new home button could be an acceptable option for those unable or unwilling to carry additional gaming accessories.

Screenshot (114)
As noted by Patently Apple, the patent, with inventor credit going to Colin Ely and Fletcher Rothkopf, was originally filed by the company in the summer of 2013. Though it's highly unlikely this particular technology will show up on the company's next iPhone, presumably launching later this year, like most patents it's still interesting to see what possibilities Apple has considered in the past and the possible directions it may choose to go in the future.

Tag: patent


Top Rated Comments

(View all)

22 months ago
As if the home button doesn't wear out as is. With this it'll be worse... and will apple cover as they'll put it , over use of home button?
Rating: 30 Votes
22 months ago
That's very clever.. but as above I'd be wary of breaking / wear and tear / dirt and grit getting in under the button and jamming it (as happened with many existing iPhone home buttons). If they can make it durable, and seal it against anything getting in there, I'm all for it!
Rating: 20 Votes
22 months ago

As if the home button doesn't wear out as is. With this it'll be worse... and will apple cover as they'll put it , over use of home button?


In seven years of owning iPhones, I have never had a home button wear out.
Rating: 17 Votes
22 months ago
You'll get crumbs in there.

And that's how you get ants.
Rating: 16 Votes
22 months ago
Hope they offer in-store repair on that new home button...
Rating: 11 Votes
22 months ago
Just think of all the mountain dew and doritos that will get stuck down in there
Rating: 10 Votes
22 months ago
This would be like playing games with the nub mouse in the middle of my laptop. Pass.
Rating: 8 Votes
22 months ago
Imagine all of the pocket lint that would be trapped under that thing... no thanks... cool idea though.
Rating: 8 Votes
22 months ago
Iphone is a quality device, no need to cheapen it with gimmicks like this. I suspect Apple has no intention ever of implementing it, they are just blocking others with a patent. Meh
Rating: 7 Votes
22 months ago

In seven years of owning iPhones, I have never had a home button wear out.


I've owned every single iPhone and every single home button wore out. Sometimes twice. Except the 6 but it's just a waiting game for that one...
Rating: 6 Votes

[ Read All Comments ]