Our sights are set on the iPhone 13 and its expected launch in the coming months, but we’ve been seeing wild rumors for features that could come in the iPhone 14 or future Apple phones – and the latest suggests we could control an iPhone by blowing on it.
The feature, which may also come in a future Apple Watch, is described in a new patent as tech that detects ‘blow events’ to switch between different software modes and potentially navigate a user interface. The tech detects changes in pressure beyond a certain threshold and, combined with a motion sensor, ascertains whether a user is intentionally blowing on their device (or if it’s just unintentional wind from a user pumping their arms during a run, we presume).
The patent description suggests the feature would help users of either iPhones or Apple Watches – given they have to hold or wear such Apple devices in or on one hand, blow controls could supplement or potentially replace needing the other hand. In short: this seems like a neat alternate way to control your device, but it also could be an accessibility feature, too.
Analysis: iPhone patents are a slew of new ideas that may never come to pass
It wouldn’t be a surprise if blow detection never makes it into an iPhone, just by the nature of patents and their uncertainty in making it into market models. It would be great if, say, a future iPhone could detect cracks in the screen and inform users, or if the display could heal itself, as patents made public in the last year suggest could be in store for future Apple phones.
But we should also keep in mind all the ideas that haven’t gotten integrated into iPhones yet, like telescopic cameras, or curved screens, or styluses – all from patents going back as far as 2014. These could still make their way into iPhones, but it’s more likely that these were simply ideas Apple tinkered with as potential options that iPhone development could follow if they passed the company’s notoriously rigorous (and arbitrary) threshold for feature desirability. Given that these features aren’t ubiquitous in phones, it’s understandable why Apple wouldn’t invest in them.
But Apple patents keep popping up, giving us ideas at what could come in future iPhones, from the improbable to the more possible, like a MagSafe-esque magnetic breakaway charger or in-screen Face and Touch ID or the Apple Glasses. But if we’re holding out irrational hope for a category of Apple patents, it’s probably for the still-rumored foldable iPhone Flip.
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David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.