Another day, another Apple patent application. This one is focused on the iPhone’s Home button, and a little bit of evolutionary steps to make it step out of its comfort zone.As revealed by the United Stats Patent and Trademark Office in a new published application, and surfaced by Patently Apple, Apple has at least toyed around with the idea of making the Home button on an iPhone or iPad actually transform into a small, protruding joystick. The main application for something like this would inherently be gaming, and considering the focus on mobile games that Apple has practically been forced to adopt due to the App Store’s gaming popularity, something like this could make sense.
The patent application indicates a Home button as referenced to a “multi-function input device,” would work as the standard Home button, presumably with all of the current features tied in like Touch ID, but could be engaged with a pressure click to activate the joystick. Once clicked, the Home button would elevate slightly away from the rest of the device’s frame, offering a slightly elevated, and movable stick for more precise controls while playing games.
Pressing the joystick back into the body would nestle it securely back home (no pun intended).
Apple notes in the patent application that gamers tend to get frustrated when playing games on their mobile devices because the control schemes are paced on the display, and lack any type of physical controls. Indeed, some games do suffer from terrible on-screen control inputs, but others have done quite well for themselves, especially those who incorporate gestures. Of course, gaming on an iOS-based device can’t be that awful, considering how popular it is.
As noted by the original report, the patent application’s inventor credit has been given to Fletcher Rothkopf and Colin Ely. It was originally submitted by Apple in the summer of 2013.
It’s worth noting that a growing third-party accessory lineup is gaming controllers, either connecting directly to an iOS device or through Bluetooth, much like we’ve seen from Wikipad and the company’s Gamevice that adds physical buttons to an iPad for gaming.