Today we got wind of two very interesting patents from Apple, which probably won’t ever see the light of day, but have us intrigued anyway. Patently Apple spotted a new filing from Apple for a smart bezel for the iPhone. This new patent would use the bezel as a secondary electroluminescent display:
Apple intends to use the secondary display to introduce a set of new illuminated indicators that are able morph into various controls for work and play. Illuminated gaming and productivity controls could be built into the face-side of the bezel and/or selected back-side areas of iOS devices like the iPad. Apple is about to raise the bar for interactive device interfaces that will, no doubt, put absolute fear into the hearts of every iOS device wannabe competitor.
The bezel would have icons that you could interact with, without taking up any sort of screen space.
An example given is having a map on the main screen, and then have the different parts of the bezel illuminate to tell you which way to turn.
It would be marked departure from the current minimalist take on the iPhone, and might mean a complete removal of all but the most basic physical switches.
AppleInsider have been doing some sleuthing of their own, and found a patent for a combined e-ink/LCD screen that would be able to switch to the low-power monochrome version at will. Not only would it be able to alternate back and forth, but different areas of the screen would be independent, so a movie could be playing in one part, but low energy movie controls in another. Or a full color photograph with black and white text description.
As cool as both of these ideas are, I wouldn’t bank on them seeing the light of day.