Apple Still Working On Bringing Digital Crown To iPhone And iPad

Looks like Apple is still actively working on bringing Apple Watch’s Digital Crown to iPhone and iPad devices. Here are the details.

Sometimes we get the feeling that there is nothing the folks at Apple enjoy more than filing a good patent application, and the company is known to patent anything and everything even if it never actually finds its way into a shipping product. Apple isn’t alone in this, of course, but Apple’s patent applications do seem to garner by far the most interest. The latest of those applications to be brought to the attention of Patently Apple is for an Apple Watch-like Digital Crown that could be used on devices such as iPhones and iPads. The crown, which is one of the most interesting design and interface features of the Apple Watch, would allow for new interactions on whatever device it may appear.


Today’s new patent applications, numbered  20160378187 and 20160378189, revolve around “an exemplary rotary input that can rotate in a rotational direction as well as be displaced in a direction orthogonal to the rotational direction” for iPhones and iPads, and builds on existing patent application which first surfaced back in July this year.

In the new applications, Apple outlines why it feels that a crown of sorts can be beneficial to owners of devices that would not traditionally feature a mechanical interface of that kind, unlike a watch. The aim is to provide haptic feedback to interactions, something that Apple will see as both an accessibility feature and just good interface design.

Some electronic devices may include mechanical inputs, such as buttons and/or switches. These mechanical inputs can control power (i.e., on/off) and volume for the electronic devices, among other functions. However, sometimes these mechanical inputs can fail to give a user tactile feedback, such as the “click-click-click” feeling of winding a mechanical alarm clock with a knob.


The applications themselves are very wordy, and very complicated but the upshot is this – Apple is working on bringing a Digital Crown-like interface to iPhones and iPads. Whether you think that’s a good idea or not may depend on our exposure to the Apple Watch, but we do wonder whether this is something that will ever see the light of day.


As with all of Apple’s patent applications, there’s no guarantee we will see a product come out of this work. If we do, we don’t know when it might be, either.

For now, we’ll just have to wait and see.

(Source: Patently Apple)

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