Apple Researching Movement-Aware Interfaces for iPhones, Depicts Front-Facing Video Camera

Apple has been conducting ongoing research into how to further improve their mobile device interfaces as evidenced by a couple of patent applications published over the past couple of weeks. Two different patent applications reveal a couple of different approaches to movement-aware interfaces found on portable devices.

The first application published a couple of weeks ago actually explores the possibility of using motion as an interface method itself.

One problem with existing portable media devices such as cellular telephones is that users can become distracted from other activities while interfacing with the media device's video display, graphical user interface (GUI), and/or keypad. For example, a runner may carry a personal media device to listen to music or to send/receive cellular telephone calls while running. In a typical personal media device, the runner must look at the device's display to interact with a media application in order to select a song for playing. Also, the user likely must depress the screen or one or more keys on its keypad to perform the song selection. These interactions with the personal media device can divert the user's attention from her surroundings which could be dangerous, force the user to interrupt her other activities, or cause the user to interfere with the activities of others within her surroundings.

Apple proposes the use of motion-based gestures to invoke specific commands rather than relying on on-screen buttons. Examples include the use of gestures such as flicking the phone to step through contacts. Additional uses of onscreen buttons or bezel touch detection could prevent accidental gesturing. Such a system, however, seems somewhat ambitious.

A more practical take on this problem emerges from a patent application published today. In this report, Apple concedes that users may have difficulty using the iPhone's touch interface while performing tasks in motion:

. A user of a device can interact with the graphical user interface by making contact with the touch-sensitive display. The device, being a portable device, can also be carried and used by a user while the user is in motion. While the user and the device is in motion, the user's dexterity with respect to the touch-sensitive display can be disrupted by the motion, detracting form the user's experience with the graphical user interface.

Apple's solution to the problem is to modify the iPhone's interface in real-time if it detects that you are in motion (such as running, jogging).


In this example, they enlarge the size of each contact in response to the detection of motion. Similar user interface adjustments to the iPhone's home screen could be made as well to improve accuracy during activity.

Apple's patent applications generally reveal a very wide-range of possibilities and don't necessarily result in shipping products, but does show the direction of Apple's recent research.

Update: As one reader points out, the patent diagram also depicts a front-facing video camera on the front side of the device (labeled 180). A front facing camera could allow video-chat capabilities in future iPhones.


The other labeled sensors are: proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, and accelerometer. Apple also mentions the possible use of a gyroscope (digital compass/magnetometer) -- the implications of which were previously detailed.

Top Stories

Apple Officially Obsoletes First MacBook Pro With a Retina Display

Wednesday July 1, 2020 3:40 am PDT by
As expected, Apple's first MacBook Pro with a Retina display is now officially classed as "obsolete" worldwide, just over eight years after its release. In a support document, Apple notes that obsolete products are no longer eligible for hardware service, with "no exceptions." This means that any mid-2012 Retina MacBook Pro 15-inch models still out there that require a battery or other...

Apple Survey Asks iPhone Users What They Do With Old Power Adapters

Friday July 3, 2020 10:13 am PDT by
Amid multiple reports that Apple will no longer include a power adapter in its iPhone boxes starting with the iPhone 12 later this year, it appears Apple is surveying recent iPhone buyers to ask about what they've done with the power adapters that came with their previous iPhones. Screenshot via Twitter user @bedabb_ Apple's surveys typically cover numerous aspects of its products, but...

Top Stories: iPhone 12 Rumors, Apple's A12Z-Based Mac mini, Leaked iMac, and More!

Saturday July 4, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
With WWDC now behind us, our attention this week largely turned back to rumors, led by increasing claims that Apple controversially won't be including a power adapter in the box with the iPhone 12. We also saw a few other iPhone 12 rumors, signs of an upcoming iMac update, and some more information on timing of updates for Apple's smaller iPads. The other big topic this week was Apple's...

Apple Bolsters Supply Chain for Future Mini-LED iPad Pro and MacBook Pro Models

Thursday July 2, 2020 3:03 am PDT by
Apple is rumored to be releasing a mini LED-backlit iPad Pro and a new mini-LED MacBook Pro series over the next 18 months, and the devices have just picked up two new suppliers, according to industry sources. DigiTimes today reports that two former Apple suppliers, Taiwan's Zhen Ding Technology and Flexium Interconnect, have entered the supply chain to make the flexible printed circuit...

Unreleased iMac With 10-Core Comet Lake-S Chip and Radeon Pro 5300 GPU Shows Up in Geekbench

Wednesday July 1, 2020 10:48 am PDT by
Benchmarks for an unreleased iMac equipped with a 10th-generation Core i9 Intel Comet Lake-S chip and an AMD Radeon Pro 5300 graphics card have surfaced, giving us an idea of what we can expect from a refreshed 2020 iMac. The Geekbench benchmarks, which appear to be legit, were found on Twitter and shared this morning by Tom's Hardware. The iMac in the benchmarks would be a successor to the...

Kuo: Largan to Ship 'High-End' Camera Lenses for 'iPhone 12' From Mid-July

Friday July 3, 2020 1:56 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming "iPhone 12" will feature "high-end" lens arrays in the rear camera to improve image quality, according to respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a new research note seen by MacRumors, Kuo says Largan will supply the premium camera lenses to Apple for the phones from mid-July, although Apple has received the same components slightly earlier in the last couple of years....

First Arm-Based Macs to Be 13-Inch MacBook Pro and Redesigned iMac, Launches Coming in Late 2020 or Early 2021

Sunday June 21, 2020 9:18 am PDT by
Apple plans to introduce its Arm-based custom designed chips for Macs at WWDC, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a note to investors today, agreeing with an earlier report from Bloomberg. Kuo says that the first Mac models to adopt Arm-based chips will be the 13.3-inch MacBook Pro and an iMac with a redesigned form factor, with Apple planning to launch the new models in the in fourth...

EU Advertisers Criticize New App Tracking Privacy Controls in iOS 14

Friday July 3, 2020 3:44 am PDT by
A Google-backed group of European digital advertising associations has criticized Apple for requiring apps in iOS 14 to seek additional permission from users before tracking them across other apps and websites, reports Reuters. Sixteen marketing associations, some of which are backed by Facebook and Alphabet's Google, faulted Apple for not adhering to an ad-industry system for seeking user...

New Mac Ransomware Found in Pirated Mac Apps

Tuesday June 30, 2020 11:44 am PDT by
There's a new 'EvilQuest' Mac ransomware variant that's spreading through pirated Mac apps, according to a new report shared today by Malwarebytes. The new ransomware was found in pirated download for the Little Snitch app found on a Russian forum. Right from the point of download, it was clear that something was wrong with the illicit version of Little Snitch, as it had a generic installer...

Leaker: Future iPhone Models to Come in 'Exquisite' Thinner Box

Wednesday July 1, 2020 1:57 am PDT by
Leaker L0vetodream this morning posted a tweet corroborating recent rumors that Apple's "iPhone 12" lineup won't come with EarPods or a charger in the box, adding that this will also eventually apply to the existing second-generation iPhone SE. L0vetodream also claims that future iPhone packaging will be "thinner" and "exquisite," which would make sense if Apple's handsets are set to come in ...