Apple is actively working on curved screens and touchless gesture controls for iPhones, according to a new Bloomberg report this morning. The features are expected to help Apple differentiate its devices in an increasingly crowded market, but both are said to be years away from appearing in finished products.
On the curved screen front, Apple is said to be working on iPhone screens that “curve inward gradually from top to bottom,” in contrast to Samsung designs that “curve down at the edges.” As described, Apple’s design could fit the natural curvature of a cupped hand and potentially increase screen real estate by a small amount. The report says that a “curved iPhone may be as little as two to three years away.”
Rumors that Apple was working on a “non-touch” interface for handheld devices have persisted for at least a decade but have never resulted in an actual Apple product. According to today’s report, the latest implementation will “take into account the proximity of a finger to the screen” and “let iPhone users perform some tasks by moving their finger close to the screen without actually tapping it.” The feature is said to be unlikely to ship in products for “at least two years.”
While both of the technologies are said to be in the early research and development stages at Apple, rivals have been working on similar concepts for quite some time. Samsung has offered curved screens in certain Galaxy phones since late 2013 and years ago offered Air Gestures that use a motion sensor to recognize “answer the phone” and “flip pages” hand motions. Google has also been working on the radar-based Project Soli. Bloomberg says that Apple’s implementation will intentionally require close-to-screen gesturing, utilizing a technology integrated into the display rather than a motion sensor or (presumably) the TrueDepth camera found on the iPhone X.