Future iPhones and iPads may have small displays on their sides in addition to the main display. And Apple Watch bands could also offer additional display info.
Apple has been granted a patent (9,791,949) for “electronic devices with sidewall displays” and the company says that it “would be desirable to be able to use flexible display technology to provide improved electronic devices such as electronic devices with input-output components.”
According to the patent, electronic devices may be provided that contain flexible displays that are bent to form displays on multiple surfaces of the devices. Bent flexible displays may be bent to form front side displays and edge displays. Edge displays may be separated from front side displays or from other edge displays using patterned housing members, printed or painted masks, or by selectively activating and inactivating display pixels associated with the flexible display.
Edge displays may alternately function as virtual buttons, virtual switches, or informational displays that are supplemental to front side displays. Virtual buttons may include transparent button members, lenses, haptic feedback components, audio feedback components, or other components for providing feedback to a user when virtual buttons are activated.
Of course, 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.