The thumbwheel was the signature feature of BlackBerry’s original handsets, and while touchscreens have made them mostly obsolete, the Apple Watch proves there’s still a place for physical dials. But is Apple finally planning to introduce that rotating crown to the iPhone or iPad? A recently published patent suggests that the company might be considering it.
As spotted by Patently Apple, today the United States Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from the company — number 20160216801 — revealing the use of a digital crown on the side to facilitate scrolling, control volume, resize text and images, and other mundane tasks like locking or unlocking the touchscreen.
A wheel makes sense on a device like the Apple Watch whose tiny touchscreen can be completely obscured by fingers as they interact with it or a device like an older BlackBerry with no touchscreen at all. But on an iPhone or iPad with their generously sized screens? It sounds more like another thing that can easily break than a genuinely useful addition. [United States Patent and Trademark Office via Patently Apple]