Apple publishes new patents all the time, but one recent filing from the Cupertino company quickly caught our attention. The new patent shows what looks like an iPad with a physical rotary controller similar to the Digital Crown introduced with the Apple Watch.
The rotary input appears in one image near the bottom-left corner of the Apple tablet, though it could presumably be included in an iPhone or iPod Touch as well. The company notes that the rotating button might be used to control volume or change the size of text you’re reading. It would also click in to snap a photo or lock/unlock the device.
Interestingly, the patent also describes a device that “may not have a border region and may instead have a surface composed only of touchscreen.” Rumor has it Apple is planning to launch a bezel-less iPhone in 2017, and this seems to suggest the company has at least considered the possibility.
The newly published patent was actually filed in early 2014 before the Apple Watch was even announced. So it’s possible the company might simply be referring to the smartwatch’s Digital Crown, but based on some of these images, it looks like Cupertino might have a few other ideas for the technology.