Here’s how iPhones might do interchangeable lenses

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patent illustration for iPhone lens mount
Now that's a camera bump.
Illustration: Apple/USPTO

The camera bump on future iPhones could include an “interlock arrangement” for mounting additional third-party lenses, according to a patent awarded to Apple.

The idea sounds potentially compromising to the svelte design we’ve come to expect from our iPhones. Sure, “the best camera is the one in your pocket” — but in the future, you just might need a bag.

Apple Pencil may soon get additional touch-sensitive controls

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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.

‘Magic Mouse Pro’ might bring this radical redesign

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Is this the Magic Mouse Pro?
This input device is designed to do what a mouse does, but not in the same way.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

As the phrase goes, “build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.” Apple is turning that on its head by seeking to build a better mouse.

Its proposal is for a round mouse that can sense how the user is holding it, so it always performs as the user expects. And rather than moving the mouse to control the cursor, the user tilts it.

Apple completely reimagines the iPhone case

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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 Pencil with a built-in screen is genius

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Apple Pencil with touchscreen patent filing
Not resting on their laurels, engineers are looking for ways to improve Apple Pencil.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

A next-generation Apple Pencil could have a built-in touchscreen. And it’s apparently an actual improvement, not just something bolted on to make it cost more. The display would let the user know what color they’re about to draw with.

Apple wants to put a computer on your finger

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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 explores using multi-user eye tracking for games and more

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Multi-user eye tracking patent
A new patent shows Apple is looking into the possibilities of one computer following the eye movements of two people.
Photo: Apple

A computer tracking where its user is looking isn’t that complicated, but eye tracking two people simultaneously is more challenging. Apple worked out a method, and sees the potential for games, security and even surgery.

Apple wants to put AR navigation in your car

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Apple Maps could make driving easier with augmented reality navigation tips.
Apple Maps could make driving easier with augmented reality navigation tips.
Photo: Apple

Apple is exploring ways to build augmented reality into Apple Maps. Rather than top-down views of roads and intersections, the company is considering overlaying route information onto live views of the road ahead of the car.

Apple Maps has always lagged behind Google Maps. Building in AR could help it jump ahead.

Apple designed its very own car suspension system

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Here's how Apple Car might eliminate blind spots
Coming to a road near you. Eventually?
Image: Aristomenis Tsirbas/Freelancer

The question of whether Apple is building a physical Apple Car or just a software platform hasn’t been confirmed either way.

But there are a few hints, such as the fact that Apple was just granted a patent for a special suspension system for a car. Whether that part of the project continues remains to be seen.

Apple explores dual-screen MacBook with tactile keyboard

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Dual-screen MacBook patent
Apple wants to give MacBooks a second display with a tactile keyboard, ditching the built-in one.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Apple is considering a MacBook with two displays, with the second screen acting as a keyboard. By necessity, iPads already employ on-screen keyboards but these lack tactile feedback. Apple is looking for ways to make these virtual keys move when they’re typed on.

The company has been pursuing this project for years, as demonstrated by a patent it just received.