USPTO

Apple granted patent for iPhone-compatible Apple Pencil

The United States Patent and Trademark Office yesterday awarded a new patent to Apple, seemingly covering a future Apple Pencil that would work with an iPhone. Apple's $99 stylus is currently exclusive to iPad Pro models because the accessory requires a special system underneath the display, which iPhones currently don't have.

The U.S. Patent No. 9,658,704, titled “Devices and methods for manipulating user interfaces with a stylus”, describes a future Apple Pencil as supporting a myriad of electronic devices outfitted with a touchscreen and one or more sensors to detect signals from a stylus.

In some embodiments, the patent describes using a stylus with portable communications devices like iPhone, iPod touch and iPad by taking advantage of the projected mutual capacitance sensing technology that Apple's existing OS devices currently use.

The wording of the patent indicates strongly that a future Apple Pencil may work with other types of apps like word processing, spreadsheet making, game playing, web browsing, image editing, email and more.

Other devices like Macs with touch-sensitive trackpads might also work with a stylus.

Both “iPhone” and “phone” are referenced many times throughout the patent application. One of the included patent drawings clearly illustrates a stylus being used with an iPhone-like device.

The patent was originally filed for in September 2015 and credits Apple engineers Jeffrey Traer Bernstein, Linda L. Dong, Mark K. Hauenstein and Julian Missig as its inventors.

Tim Cook may have hinted in an interview last September that Apple Pencil could soon work with iPhones, thereby suggesting that the next iPhone might incorporate additional sensor support for a next-generation digital stylus from Apple.

Apple awarded key iPhone 8 patents for in-screen Touch ID, edge-to-edge display and 3D scanner

The United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) on Tuesday awarded Apple patents for a bezel-less screen, a depth mapping system and an always-on Touch ID fingerprint sensor integrated into the display, which are the three key features expected from iPhone 8. The patents are part of a series of 56 newly granted patents for Apple today, according to PatentlyApple.

Edge-to-edge display

Titled ”Reducing the border area of a device”, the U.S. Patent No. 9,652,096 covers the process for bending the edges of a touch sensor panel and a display panel to help reduce the non-interactive border area of a mobile device.

The patent abstract explains that an electronic device could feature a flexible panel comprised of a flat surface, “an active area” and one or more bent borders “contiguous with and extending from the active area of the substantially flat surface”.

The panel can be folded back against the back surface.

This helps extend the active touch area closer to the edges, thereby reducing the overall width of a device. The patent was filed for in July 2014 and names Apple engineer Steven Martisauskas as its inventor.

In-screen Touch ID

The U.S. Patent No. 9,652,066 for an “Electronic device including finger biometric sensor including transparent conductive blocking areas carried by a touch display and related methods” covers moving Apple's Touch ID from the Home button to beneath the display itself.

The system would use at least one transparent conductive layer beneath a touch display to define “touch sensing pixels”. A finger biometric sensing layer, which includes an array of transparent conductive finger biometric sensing pixels, is capacitively coupled to the at least one transparent conductive layer of the display.

Apple also mentions switchable transparent conductive blocking areas between the finger biometric sensing layer and at least one transparent conductive layer of the touch display. These areas could alternate between blocking and reading states.

Apple argues that biometric authentication should occur automatically as the user is interacting with the device, not require them to scan their finger in a separate step which would force them to switch between tasks to authenticate themselves. In other words, Apple's proposed solution would allow auto-authentication because your iPhone could read the fingerprint that's already on the touchscreen, providing a more seamless experience.

According to the patent's description, an in-screen Touch ID may support iPhone, iPad and MacBook devices. The late-2016 MacBook Pro is the first Apple computer to come with Touch ID, found at the rightmost side of its Touch Bar OLED display.

This patent was first filed for in January 2015 and lists Apple engineer Dale Setlak as its inventor.

3D sensing

And lastly, we have the U.S. Patent No. 9,651,417 for a “Scanning depth engine” which covers optical 3D mapping associated with a Kinect-like device and details methods and devices for projection and capture of optical radiation.

The solution requires a bespoke transmitter and a scanner.

The job of the transmitter is emitting a beam comprising pulses of light. The scanner, basically a micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) device then uses micro mirrors, receives the light reflected from the scene. Using time of flight calculations, the system is able to generate 3D models of any objects in a volume of interest, based on the calculated distance of the individual points in the scene from the scanner.

“A processor is coupled to control the scanner so as to cause the beam to scan over a selected window within the scan range and to process the output of the receiver so as to generate a 3D map of a part of the scene that is within the selected window,” reads the patent abstract. The scanner can be configured to scan the reflected light within a predefined scan range, over a scene, adds the company.

While this particular invention could power iPhone 8's rumored 3D scanning and mapping features, Apple specifically mentions a Kinect-like accessory that could be also integrated into a next-generation Apple TV to permit users to interact with games or exercise videos played.

This patent was filed for in February 2013 and lists Apple's Israel-based PrimeSense engineers Alexander Shpunt and Raviv Erlich as its inventors.

Siri could soon recognize your voice & let you customize “Hey Siri” hotword

The United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) recently published a patent application from Apple, uncovered by PatentlyApple, that's interesting on many levels. It basically hints at a new security feature that may or may not come to Siri in the future. In a nutshell, Apple’s proposed solution would let Siri recognize the voice of the device owner.

The invention has the potential to prevent unauthorized Siri interactions on the Lock screen and across CarPlay and HomeKit devices.

Apple patent envisions a MacBook powered by your iPhone or iPad

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Thursday published Apple's patent application for an “Electronic accessory device” acting as a dock that would turn your iPhone or iPad into a touchscreen-enabled Mac notebook, something many people have been craving for. The patent application outlines an ultra-portable MacBook of sorts with a special dock into which an iOS device could be inserted to provide compute power, software, storage and other features.

As with many other Apple patents, there's no telling when this particular invention might see the light of day, if ever.

Apple granted yet another patent for in-screen fingerprint reader ahead of iPhone 8

Apple has been granted yet another patent for a fingerprint reader embedded underneath the display itself, a feature widely expected to debut on iPhone 8.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) this morning awarded the iPhone maker a patent for an “electronic device including finger biometric sensor carried by a touch display and related methods”. The company first applied for this patent on January 27, 2015.

New AirPods patent reveals exactly how seamless Bluetooth pairing method functions

A new patent application for “Wireless audio output devices,” published Thursday by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), describes exactly how Apple's new W1 chip inside AirPods enables zero-configuration Bluetooth pairing. In a nutshell, the charging case that comes with AirPods doubles as a physical pairing interface.

Aside from a built-in battery, the case features its own microprocessor and communications stack, a motion-detecting lid for starting the seamless pairing process with an Apple device and a physical button for manual Bluetooth pairing with non-Apple hardware, like Android handsets.

Apple patents tiny thru-holes in OLED display, HUD windows & more slick tech for full-face iPhone

A new patent No. 9,543,364 for “Electronic devices having displays with openings” has been awarded to Apple this morning by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). First filed for in February 2015, this newly granted patent reveals more ways iPhone 8 will outclass Android rivals.

The invention would basically put some common components typically found on the front face of the phone behind the display assembly.

What components are we talking about?

Well, stuff like the earpiece, forward-facing cameras, Touch ID and various sensors. Integrating such parts behind the display assembly would help design a truly edge-to-edge device. Apple is thought to be working on such designs for its upcoming OLED-based iPhone 8 refresh.

Apple patent would integrate Siri into Messages to assist with tasks via bot-style commands

You've been able to ask Siri to send messages on your behalf for a few years now and with iOS 10, Apple's expanded Siri capabilities to third-party apps like mobile payments. But if a new patent for a “Virtual assistant in a communication session” that the company filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is anything to go by, the virtual assistant could soon be integrated deep into Messages, assisting users with peer-to-peer payments, scheduling dinner and providing other chat bot-style interactions within message threads.

New Apple patent would embed light sensors into the display, hints at iPhone 8 technology

The United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) today awarded Apple a patent describing a process for embedding light-sensing sensors into a mobile display. The invention, titled “Electronic devices with display-integrated light sensors,” potentially paves the way for next year's iPhone.

Apple's new patent specifically mentions the ambient light and proximity sensors, which are found on the front face of the device, as being integrated into the display assembly.

According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and pundits in the know, like Daring Fireball's John Gruber, the iPhone 8—or whatever a 2017 iPhone (or Tenth Anniversary iPhone) ends up being called—should be a major design departure from prior models as it would supposedly get rid of the chin and forehead bezels by integrating Touch ID and the front-camera along with other sensors directly into the display.

Apple granted patent for a Touch ID sensor that could work through an iPhone display

If you've been waiting for the next iconic design since the release of the black-clad iPhone 5, this year's iPhone 7 probably feels like a slight disappointment. Apple is widely thought to have saved its best innovation and industrial redesign for the Tenth Anniversary iPhone next year which could embed the fingerprint sensor, FaceTime camera and sensors behind the display.

As revealed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Apple has now been granted a patent for a fingerprint-sensing technology that could work through the display itself, paving the way for an iPhone with the full-screen face design.