Optical sensors could replace Apple Watch’s Digital Crown


If the Digital Crown is gone, you can't accidentally smash it.
If the Digital Crown is gone, you can't accidentally smash it.
Photo: David Snow/Cult of Mac

Apple Watch’s Digital Crown helps users take full advantage of the watchOS interface, beyond using the wearable’s touchscreen. But it looks like future Apple Watches might ditch the crown in favor of optical sensors, according to a new patent the Cupertino tech giant filed.

Apple wants to make iPhone easier to use underwater


iPhone XS Max vs. iPhone XS size: Sometimes bigger really is better.
iPhone could soon get some new underwater tricks.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple has been working tirelessly to make the iPhone more and more waterproof over the last four years. Now it appears that the company wants to make it possible to actually use the display underwater too.

Recent patent filings revealed that Apple is putting some serious thought into how to make the iPhone easier to use underwater by creating a simplified UI that lets the user focus less on taps and more on swimming or whatever else you’d be doing underwater.

Apple dreams up curvy iMac concept


Patent reveals Apple iMac concept
This could be a sneak peek at the 2020 iMac.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

The design of the iMac hasn’t changed much in over a decade, but Apple is considering a radical facelift. A proposed future model would consist of a pane of glass that surrounds the display, then curves forward to hold a keyboard and a pair of trackpads.

Apple Pencil may soon get additional touch-sensitive controls


A proposed Apple Pencil with more controls.
The second-gen Apple Pencil has a single capacitive button, but Apple is considering several more.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Building on the capabilities of the Apple Pencil active stylus, Apple proposes adding additional touch-sensitive controls to the exterior. This would expand the capabilities of this drawing tool for the iPad without making it more difficult to use.

This is just one of several ways Apple is considering to improve the Pencil.

Apple completely reimagines the iPhone case


Apple proposed swinging iPhone case
This is the simplest way of configuring Apple’s highly innovative iPhone case concept.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Apple engineers dreamed up an iPhone case that’s also a stand and a handle. And maybe a keyboard. It’s surprisingly simple, but also a dramatic departure from typical cases.

And it’s possible the designers see this as more than an add on. They seem to be proposing that handsets and tablets have this case built in.

Apple wants to put a computer on your finger


Apple smart ring patent
The Apple Ring, in two possible designs, might work closely with your iPhone or Mac.
Photo: Apple

Apple engineers put considerable thought into a “wearable electronic ring computing device” small enough to put on a finger.

The proposed smart ring would have a touchscreen and work closely with another computer, often acting as an input device for it.

Apple finds a way to revolutionize the haptic keyboard


on-screen haptic keyboard patent
An on-screen haptic keyboard proposal
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Apple invented an on-screen haptic keyboard with virtual keys that simulate movement, which should make typing a better experience.

A laptop’s hardware keyboard is great for text entry but is in the way when reading websites, watching movies, playing games, etc. That’s why Apple is exploring options for getting rid of the keyboard while maintaining the ease of typing offered by a physical keyboard.

Apple is serious about strapping a camera to your wrist


The camera looks like its part of the loop band.
Photo: USPTO

It seems inevitable that a camera will eventually find its way onto the Apple Watch, the only question is ‘how’? The USPTO awarded a new patent this week that reveals one pretty novel idea Apple has come up with that would allow the Apple Watch camera to be reversible.

It doesn’t look very sleek, but it could be pretty useful:

Apple’s beloved MagSafe connector could make a comeback


Here's how to hack the new MacBook's power chime onto the Aiir and Pro. Photo: Apple
MagSafe is gone but not forgotten. Not at Apple, anyway.
Photo: Apple

Apple is exploring charging cables that attach to its devices with magnets. This is highly reminiscent of its discontinued MagSafe system.

Previously, this was a great way to keep MacBooks from being accidentally damaged but Apple stopped using it during the company’s transition to USB-C.