A recently published patent document reveals that Apple has filed for a patent that brings the digital crown on the Apple Watch to the iPhone.
The application, first spotted by Patently Apple, reveals a digital crown that works almost exactly as it does on the Apple Watch. The application lists out scrolling and tapping as two possible functions and hints at the possibility of an embedded TouchID style sensor. It’s also suggested that the device can have a touch sensitive surface for “detecting one or more touch inputs,” apart from whatever mechanical can be received from the form factor.
It’s not clear what the crown is actually for. Some suggest that it will replace all the buttons on your iPhone, doubling as TouchID, volume rocker, power and home buttons, all in one. I’m not too keen on that idea though, or the idea of a digital crown on a phone or tablet for that matter.
If you remember the old Sony Ericsson P900 series phones or even the side-wheel on BlackBerry devices, you’ll know what we’re talking about. A scroll wheel on phones like the aforementioned Sony and Blackberry made sense because they didn’t have touch-screens. Both companies phased out the side-wheel in favour of a D-pad or some sort of joystick. I don’t see why you’d need one now, especially on the phone that killed every other form of input that wasn’t touch.
But hey, this is Apple we’re talking about. If they can do something as silly as remove the headphone jack, it’s within the realm of possibility that a digital crown on an iPhone and iPad will become reality.
Then again, this is just a patent application that was filed around the time that Apple was working on its Watch. They might just have been covering all the bases.