Future iPhones could cop a few moves from Samsung’s Nature UX user interface, a new patent application reveals, amid widespread calls for the company to freshen up its iOS software.
Filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, the patent outlines Apple’s plans for “Electronic Devices with Gaze Detection Capabilities".
Like the Smart Scroll function Samsung debuted on the Galaxy S4, the feature would harness the phone’s accelerometers to allow owners to tilt their phone to scroll through web pages or documents.
This makes it easier to use in situations where owners may only have one hand free. For instance, on a crowded train when the other hand is being used to cling to a rail.
The patent also details plans to use future iPhones’ front-facing cameras to detect when a user is looking at the screen and track their eye movements.
In a power-saving gambit, the phone will then automatically go into a low-power display mode when the owner looks away from the screen. It will also pause videos when users avert their gaze, in an echo of Samsung’s Smart Pause feature.
What’s conspicuous by its absence from Apple’s patent, which expounds on a similar filing from back in 2008, is a Galaxy S4-style option to use eye movements to scroll through web pages.
How far the tech is from market and landing on an iPhone isn’t clear right now.
But the fact that tech sites and iFans are lobbying for changes to iOS for the next handset or handsets means there's room for cautious optimism at least. Even if we think that these kind of features are just the sort of thing that form-is-function adherent Jonathan Ive would dismiss as a novelty/bagatelle and wouldn't want near his handset.