Apple Patent Throws Light on Virtual Home Button, More LS Features

Although it doesn’t look like this one would make into the next iPhone (the “5S”), a new patent does reveal some interesting things about a makeover for the default iPhone design.

The home button might become a virtual one, possibly indicating a larger display screen extending slightly up to the present home button on the iPhone. But as interesting as it sounds, imagining such a screen (and design) doesn’t bring up beautiful interfaces.


It is not often that we see some image makeovers and huge interface overhauls from Apple’s patents. The technology discernible from the patents is usually under-the-hood stuff, often far out into the future.

Apple Patent Virtual Home Button

This patent, however, touches upon the looks of the lockscreen. The lockscreen on iOS has remained quite the same since the last few iterations and updates. However, things might change (very positively) in a couple more updates.

The new lockscreen patented by Apple has the ability to provide the user to launch a few chosen apps right from the lockscreen. Instead of sliding to unlock, the user can use a virtual home button or simple swipe gestures that pulls up – imagine it like how the notification banners roll in and out – a set of app icons that can launch the respective apps.


But doesn’t that kind of beat the purpose of the lockscreen and, if there’s a passcode enabled, security?

Apple answers that by choosing to limit the apps or the extent of the app which can be used. Apps like, say, calculators aren’t going to be security threats if they can be opened without a passcode. Also, Apple hints that the apps opened this way can be limited in how much of the app is visible/usable to the user.

All in all, the new patents look interesting and they’d be doubly so if the implementation is in iOS 7. Also, since there’s consistent chatter about a major overhaul in iOS 7, it wouldn’t be too hard to assume that these features might make it into the next iOS release.

Source: PatentlyApple