We at Unlock-my-iPhone are always intrigued by what Apple get up to. It's quite exciting, watching a company with such deep pockets that is so innovative: they have the means and the will to do incredible things that will change the world.
We all know how iPhones have benefited us with their networked apps: Apple's genius was to open the gates to developers to add their own products to their library and take their commission. The result of this democratisation of crowd-sourced activity not only created a new market and industry, but also gave us new ways of interacting, entertaining, and learning.
But if we take a look through Apple's patents over the last few years, there some tantalising hints at what might have been if the designs had ever come to pass (and, let's face it, a great many of them might be re-hashed into a future product. Knowledge is, after all, like a jigsaw, but you just don't get all of the pieces at the same time!)
The Daily Telegraph had an interesting article about this subject earlier this week (you would be excused for missing it in all the Budget coverage and the shouting about the EU Referendum). Some of the patents they highlight after digging into Apple's intellectual property and recent acquisitions include a Virtual Reality headset with a link to a handset (iPhone probably), a bendy iPhone that would probably be more robust than the current models, and, one of my favourites, the 'armoured' iPhone! This is basically an extreme sports edition camera that looks to take out the Go Pro camera market, with more videoing angles and better wind resistance.
Next we jump slightly into the future: with a holographic iPhone display. It's not quite Star Trek's Holodeck standard yet, but existing 3D displays such as the Amazon Fire Phone haven't quite generated the buzz you'd expect with such a format (though this was released in 2014. But Amazon look to have cancelled the Fire phone concept since 2015. Probably a number of factors hindered its success: There was no app ecosystem comparable to Apple's, it had a short battery life due to too much of the hardware, and Greenpeace targeted it as being "the most polluting handset ever" leaving numerous 1 star reviews). The lesson that Apple might have drawn from this is that the display is going to have to be functional, not judged gimmicky in any way, and also not hinder battery life too much. (I would also suggest that Amazon haven't withdrawn from the mobile market just yet. Like Apple, they are innovative and have very deep pockets too. They'll be back, one day).
The Telegraph also highlight one really cool patent: if the engineering comes off then every time you drop your handset, its sensors will make sure that it lands with the screen facing up! Just how it would propel itself as it falls is somewhat of a mystery (perhaps it will deploy a chute or angle its flaps or discharge a sudden blast of burning hydrocarbons from a hitherto unnoticed exhaust?) but to get it working would be a very clever engineering achievement.
Have a look at the Telegraph article here and let me know which one is your favourite!