Apple’s wrap around display patent adds validity to rumors of a curved iPhone in 2017

A newly granted Apple patent (number 9,367,095) for an “electronic device with a wrap around display” will only further fuel speculation that “iPhone 8” in 2018 will sport a, well, wraparound display. 

In the patent filing, Apple notes that, in the last few years the functionality of portable electronic devices has increased “exponentially” and that further improvements be realized by investigating ways to maximize the utility of unused portions of these devices. 

Apple says the majority of portable electronic devices have settled into a standard form factor; namely a flat planar form factor with a display on one side and an opaque housing which contains the electrical components covering the rear surface of the device. This popular form factor leaves the sides and rear surfaces of the device unused or at best configured with buttons and switches with fixed location and functionality, the company adds. 

Since many of these buttons and switches have fixed functionality they cannot always be incorporated into third party applications. Apple wants to change that.

Apple has also been granted a patent (number 20140365118) for a “direction list,” in which the Maps app on your iPhone or iPad would “intelligently” place distance labels along a route in a map. A distance label placed at a particular position of the route shows the distance to the particular location from the starting point of the route. 

Distance labels allow you to see the distances between the various points of interest (e.g., maneuvers) along the route. Maps could also display the route as a list of driving directions with the distance labels placed alongside the list of driving directions, and each distance label associated with a maneuver in the list of directions.

Finally, Apple has been granted a patent (number 8666034) for “audio call screening for hosted voicemail systems.” To be honest, I’m not sure if this involves the iPhone or a telephonic system for the Mac.

The invention would allow you to screen messages being left at a hosted voicemail system from a telephone terminal. Incoming calls intended for the telephone terminal are routed to the voicemail system immediately or after attempting to connect incoming call to the telephone terminal. 

As the caller is leaving a message at the voicemail system, a connection between the incoming call, voicemail system, and telephone terminal is established to allow the user to listen to the message and decide whether to take the call. The user may decide to take the call or let the caller finish leaving the message. 

The telephone terminal may be equipped to open only the speaker channel for monitoring the message and will provide a fully bi-directional connection if the user takes the call. The supporting switch and telephone terminal communicate with each other to facilitate the monitoring and taking of calls.

Keep in mind that Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.