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New iPad, iPhone bezels may one day be both smart and pressure-sensitive

Apple smart bezel
Apple could put pressure sensors in new iPad's corners

Phone and tablet bezels up to now have mostly just taken up space, but Apple could change that in the future.

The iPhone maker has been exploring the idea of making the bezel sensitive to pressure, thereby opening up all kinds of possibilities, a newly published patent has revealed.

The patent, titled "gesture and touch input detection through force sensing," describes placing pressure sensors around a device's bezel, in the corners or elsewhere.

These would theoretically provide more opportunities for UI navigation and other functions.

What is it good for?

For example, a new iPad game played on a device with force sensors in the bezel might let users control the action by tapping on the bezel rather than the screen, and thus not obscure what's taking place in the game with a thumb or finger.

In addition devices could become better at reading users' inputs, like swiping to the right or left, a gesture that is often inadvertently begun just off the pressure-sensing touch screen surface.

There's yet another possibility of iPad users being able to use the right-hand bezel to scroll up and down. In this example the virtual buttons under the bezel's surface aren't precise, but the device will react as a user's finger or thumb gets closer to the "up" zone or the "down" zone.

The bezel saga continues

Clearly there are a lot of applications, but this isn't the first time Apple has toyed with smart bezels.

Another patent for a sensitive bezel surfaced in July 2013, and it was thought it could be a clue that an Apple iWatch was in the works.

And back in 2011 yet another patent suggested that the iPhone 5 might feature bezel controls, though obviously that didn't come to pass.

  • It doesn't have smart bezels, but Apple's iPhone 5S is an impressive device nonetheless - don't miss TechRadar's review!

Via Patently Apple