Apple Granted Patent for Liquidmetal Home Button on iOS Devices

liquidmetal.pngThe U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today granted Apple a series of 40 new patents, including one that describes various implementations and benefits of a Liquidmetal home button on iPhones and iPads.

Liquidmetal alloys, otherwise known as "bulk solidifying amorphous alloys" in the patent filing (via Patently Apple), have a number of unique properties, including high strength, corrosion resistance, light weight, and malleability.

Apple has annually renewed its exclusive rights to use Liquidmetal since 2010, but how it plans to use the alloys remains unclear. Early speculation centered around Apple using Liquidmetal for the iPhone SIM Tool, while other Liquidmetal home button patents have surfaced as early as 2014. Meanwhile, Steve Zadesky, named on this and other Liquidmetal patents, recently announced he was leaving Apple.

Today's patent explains how Liquidmetal's high elasticity makes it an ideal material for a pressure-sensitive home button that would deform slightly when pressed, but return to its normal shape when you remove your finger or thumb. Liquidmetal would always retain this elasticity, while other materials like titanium or stainless steel could become irreversibly deformed and adversely affect the home button.

Liquidmetal-home-button-patent
A second embodiment of the patent details a home button with a switch comprising a small actuator positioned adjacent to Liquidmetal material, whereby pressing the actuator deforms the bulk solidifying amorphous alloy. The efficient design could be easier for Apple to manufacture compared to conventional pressure-sensitive home buttons that use dome switches placed on a substrate with or without an actuation nub.

It does not appear that Apple's upcoming products, including the rumored iPhone SE, iPhone 7, and new 9.7-inch iPad Pro, will adopt Liquidmetal, given the absence of any recent rumors surrounding the alloys, but Apple's continuous renewal of the material implies it remains interested. It is common for Apple to patent inventions that are not publicly released until years later, if ever.

United States Patent No. 9,279,733 describes Apple's invention in more detail.

Top Rated Comments

KazKam Avatar
65 months ago
Liquidmetal: A solution looking for a problem.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Ballis Avatar
65 months ago
I was hoping they would kill of the homebutton all together. And put the fingerprint sensor beneath the screen.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LordQ Avatar
65 months ago
Remember that rumour of an iPhone with Liquidmetal body? Doesn't time fly...
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bpeeps Avatar
65 months ago
Well this rumor takes me back to 2011.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iOSFangirl6001 Avatar
65 months ago
Oh snap the home button is turning Terminator on us:rolleyes:
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Vanilla35 Avatar
65 months ago
Stop patenting physical home button technology. If you haven't used it already, then you missed the boat. We're all looking forward to Touch ID being imbedded into the screen, and the home button bezel is getting to be ridiculous. Cut the chin apple.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

bloodoxygenapplewatch

Apple Watch Series 7 to Gain Breakthrough New Health Feature

Friday March 5, 2021 5:34 am PST by
Apple is reportedly planning to bring a new, first-of-its-kind health technology to the Apple Watch Series 7, in what could be a breakthrough for managing conditions such as diabetes more easily. According to a recent report from ETNews, the Apple Watch Series 7 will feature blood glucose monitoring via a non-invasive optical sensor. Measuring blood glucose levels, also known as blood...
apple transfer google photos 1

Apple Launches Service for Transferring iCloud Photos and Videos to Google Photos

Wednesday March 3, 2021 12:04 pm PST by
Apple this week introduced a new service that's designed to make it quick and easy for iCloud users to transfer their stored photos and videos to Google Photos. As outlined in an Apple support document, you can go to Apple's privacy website and sign in to see the "Transfer a copy of your data" option. If you select this and go through all the steps, Apple will transfer your iCloud photos and ...
imac pro featured black

Apple Confirms iMac Pro Will Be Discontinued When Supplies Run Out, Recommends 27-Inch iMac

Saturday March 6, 2021 7:33 am PST by
Apple on late Friday evening added a "while supplies last" notice to its iMac Pro product page worldwide, and removed all upgrade options for the computer, leaving only the standard configuration available to order for now. We've since confirmed with Apple that when supplies run out, the iMac Pro will no longer be available whatsoever. Apple says the latest 27-inch iMac introduced in August...
Oled iPads and MackBook Pro

OLED 10.9-Inch iPad Rumored for Early 2022, 12.9-Inch iPad Pro and 16-Inch MacBook Pro Could Follow

Thursday March 4, 2021 8:37 pm PST by
Earlier today, DigiTimes shared a preview of an upcoming report claiming that Apple is working on both iPad and Mac notebook models with OLED displays that could launch starting in 2022. The full report from DigiTimes is now available, and it includes several new alleged details about Apple's plans. According to the report, the first of these devices to adopt an OLED display is likely to be...
apple products refurbished store banner

Class Action Lawsuit Over Apple Providing Refurbished Replacement Devices Proceeding to Trial in August

Friday March 5, 2021 9:53 am PST by
Initially filed in 2016, a class action lawsuit that accuses Apple of violating the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act, Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, and other U.S. laws by providing customers with refurbished replacement devices is set to proceed to trial August 16, according to a notice this week from law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP. Apple's repair terms and conditions state that,...
iPhone 13 Notch Feature2

iPhone 13 Rumor Recap: Smaller Notch, Larger Batteries, 120Hz for Pro Models, Improved 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, and More

Friday March 5, 2021 8:20 am PST by
While we are likely at least six months away from Apple unveiling the so-called iPhone 13 lineup, rumors about the devices are starting to accumulate, so we've put together this recap of everything that is expected so far. The upcoming iPhone 13 lineup will consist of the same four models and the same screen sizes as the iPhone 12 lineup, according to reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo,...
maxresdefault

What's on Your iPhone Home Screen?

Thursday March 4, 2021 10:31 am PST by
Over on our YouTube channel, MacRumors videographer Dan has a new video up where he shares his Home Screen, wallpaper, and all of his current favorite widgets. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Check out Dan's video to see his setup, and then comment below and show us your own Home Screens. It's always fun to see other peoples' Home Screens, and with widgets and...
OLED iPad Pro and MacBook Pro

iPad and MacBook Models With OLED Displays Rumored to Launch in 2022

Thursday March 4, 2021 8:19 am PST by
Apple plans to release new iPad and MacBook models with OLED displays in 2022, according to industry sources cited by Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes. The information was shared in the site's paywalled "Before Going to Press" section, so there are no further details yet, but the full report should be released by tomorrow. Apple has gradually increased its adoption of OLED...
Top Stories 48

Top Stories: iPhone 13 Leaks, OLED iPads and Macs, New AirTags Evidence

Saturday March 6, 2021 6:00 am PST by
iPhone rumors are heating up, with noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo this week releasing a wide-ranging report outlining his expectations for the iPhone lineup over the next three years. This week also saw rumors about OLED displays potentially coming to iPad and Mac starting next year, increasing signs of AirTags functionality in iOS 14.5 betas, and more, so check out all of the details below! i...
imac pro while supplies last

iMac Pro No Longer Custom Configurable, Available 'While Supplies Last'

Friday March 5, 2021 10:14 pm PST by
Apple appears to be on the verge of discontinuing the iMac Pro, with the store page for the high-end all-in-one Mac including a "While supplies last" tagline and only the base model with no custom configurations available for purchase. The iMac Pro launched in December 2017, and while there have been a few tweaks to the available configurations over the years, it has received no substantial...