Apple patent Home button thumb joystick

On any given Thursday the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) would publish newly granted patents and patent applications and today was no exception.

We already told you about one invention for a technology that would make it possible to synchronize your fingerprint data between devices through iCloud in a secure manner.

And now, PatentlyApple points us to another Apple patent application describing a Home button that would pop up and transition into a tiny thumb joystick for playing games.

Titled “Multi-function Input Device,” it outlines a spring-loaded Home button on an iPhone which could pop up to serve as a tiny thumb joystick for playing games.

When not in use (a “button mode”), the button can be pushed back into its original position flush with the device body. When elevated (a “joystick mode”), it’d allow for 360-degree movement and serve as a D-pad of sorts in games.

The patent text makes no mention of Touch ID so it remains unclear how the fingerprint sensor would fit into this idea. It’s also unclear what advantages, if any, such a solution would offer over dedicated ‘Made for iPhone’ gaming controllers other than being embedded in the device itself and therefore not requiring an additional purchase.

Another issue: potential wear and tear stemming from extensive use of the Home button in the joystick mode.

Keep in mind that the vast majority of inventions Apple patents never get formalized in products. Like many companies, Apple seeks to patent everything it can think of, mostly in order to shield itself from patent trolls and boost its patent portfolio.

The invention, originally filed in the summer of 2013, is credited to Apple engineers Colin Ely and Fletcher Rothkopf.

Source: USPTO via PatentlyApple

  • XZavier

    Oh my gosh… I kinda hope they actually use this…

  • So it is like the iPod touch 5th gen loop hook they have on the back of them. Not sure how you’d properly press the home button with out getting your joystick popping up. I don’t doubt them having a trick up there sleeve for this to work. Apple seems to perform magic.

    • Cameron Nelms

      They could use a feature like the virtuahome tweak

    • jake kneller

      The best way I see it is push down and twist or something or maybe a gesture to unlock it such like an activator gesture but through buttons

  • ✯Mike✯

    moving parts always break. bad idea

    • jake kneller

      Your buttons on your iPhone don’t break now yes if you use one iPhone for a long time they will adventually give out but I have a friend who just latlst year retired his iPhone 2g for years I had been telling him to get a new one but he Is a person who doesn’t replace it unless you absolutely must

      • jake kneller

        But point being the phone still works great now if you use the same phone for that many years which no one well almost no one does I guess there’s not to much to worry about

  • Jonathan

    New gaming experience?

    • Digitalfeind

      Think of the jailbreak possibilities.

      • Jonathan

        I’m techno-drooling.

      • Jad Boukai

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      • Jonathan

        haha, okay. xD

  • Fanboy 

    Now THIS is awesome! Even if they don’t ever implement it this was by far the coolest thing ever lol

  • Thomas Gehman

    Funniest thing I’ve seen all week xD

  • Well this is interesting, it could work I suppose. As far as touch id goes, you won’t need that in the button anymore if they use they change the screen like on the apple watch. They could put the sensor into the screen.

  • they’ll experiment with such a concept ; then conclude its untenable.

  • peter

    Should we do this even with a Tweak

    • ‘Ariff

      how would a tweak make the physical feedback possible?

      although I do understand if it enabled the fingerprint sensor to act as a “physical” digital analog dpad instead. Now that would be bombin’.

      • Buzz { Light:Year; }

        I dunno if that is possible isn’t it stationary reception is your finger moves the slightest it doesn’t read it or I might be wrong

      • jake kneller

        Maybe someone could use the fingerprint sensor as something like that you move your finger around on the home button and it recognizes as like a d-pad or joy stick but I’m not too sure whether it can see movement I’ve that

  • Byron C Mayes

    It has but one function: To stick you with joy!

  • Xee

    This is stupid. Get rid of the home button altogether would be better!

  • Aneeq Naqvi

    The coolest thing I’ve seen after some time. 😀

  • Dan

    could be pretty cool, although wondering how sturdy it would be

  • Jaco

    okay, but apple hates moving parts ^^

  • XZavier

    So if they do this would they incorporate more features like reachability? So that you could just touch the touchid to get around like with virtualhome 8? so that you don’t accidentally pop up the home button every single time? Also how well will the touchid work with this kind of function?

  • singhay559

    Soon enough the buttons will broken off due to wear and tear

  • Could come in handy in replacing the need for virtual directional buttons in games…but I have a feeling it might bring snapgate with it.

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      • White Michael Jackson

        multiple account having idiot.

  • Proaxel

    Pretty clever! However, I can vaguely imagine another failgate exploding over this…
    After all, moving parts are always the ones most likely to break. If Apple does follow through with this, they better make it the toughest thing to break, or else…

  • nyangejr

    it would be great if it can scroll down in web pages and articles

    • Noah

      Yes. I think if Apple was doing this, this would be in their top reasons to do so.

  • So where will the Touch ID go to.

  • jocastro

    hopefuly they fix there home button first, because its still garbage

  • Buzz { Light:Year; }

    Let me tell you people will actually find this usefule this would be sick