Following the launch of the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Mini 3 and iPad Air 2, and the reveal of the Apple Watch, things have gone a bit quiet on the subject of Apple products. But we recall hearing murmurings not too long ago (before these launches) coming from the mouths of key company figureheads and strongly hinting that Apple is planning to broaden its portfolio with a slew of new and innovative products.
Now there’s some evidence to suggest where Apple is planning to point its competitive cannon for its next batch of new hardware, as details have emerged this week of a new gaming controller design and an Apple action cam - the company’s answer to the iconic Go Pro.
Patently Apple has discovered a new patent for a modified Home button for iPhone and iPad devices, it seems the patent details a design where the Home key doubled up as a gamepad-style thumbstick. The Home key appears to have two modes, one is a standard setting where it functions like a normal Home key, while the second mode for gaming sees the button pop up into a thumbstick configuration - it can then be moved and rotated around.
While it’s fair to say that not all innovative Apple design patents make the move into actual devices, this does at least show that Apple has an eye on the mobile gaming sphere and how it can improve things for the many millions of avid gamers using its hardware. There is of course a bit of a stumbling block here, as you can see from the patent, the design requires a lot of mechanical gubbins seated behind the Home key, but this is already the territory of a major Apple investment and design feature - the Touch ID fingerprint scanner. It seems unlikely Apple can squeeze both capabilities in, but perhaps it’s not entirely outside the realms of possibility.
Apple’s other patent filing, reported in The Telegraph, is for a waterproof, rugged“Action Camera” in the vein of the popular Go Pro devices. The Apple action cam also features a remote control. The design is actually a patent filed by Kodak in 2012 but Apple subsequently acquired a large swathe of Kodak’s intellectual property, including this particular patent –– hence why the images include Kodak branding.
The action cam market is rapidly expanding with major investment from a selection of prominent manufacturers. Often we see designs with multiple attachment types, as the cameras are designed for sports aficionados from surfers to skydivers to skateboarders. As a result, Apple’s design also includes a selection of mounts for things like a scuba diving mask, bike helmet, and various types of board. The remote control appears to be wrist mounted with a strap.
The patent also describes key design features intended to offer better performance than Go Pro devices, specifically it suggests the Go Pro range are at a disadvantage as they can only shoot video facing forwards. Another possibly more pressing issue is the suggestion that Go Pro devices are not aerodynamic enough, causing vibrations from wind resistance and impacting recording quality. Another note talks of an underwater microphone or “hydrophone” for audio capture even when submerged.