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.
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.