There’s a selection of products already on the market for left-handed people, like scissors, diaries, and guitars, but Apple may be gearing up to offer something on a whole new level. The company has been granted a patent for a new system that would detect which hand the iPhone was held in, switching modes to accommodate the user.
According to a new patent filed with the USPTO, the feature would detect when an iPhone was being held in the left hand, adapting the user interface to fit.
In a growing market of phones slightly too big for average hands, this could be a godsend. Software developers could design their apps so that buttons were easier to reach from the side of the phone, placing them closer to the thumb. Combined with this feature, the buttons would swap sides to bring themselves closer to the left side of the screen. Phones would be easier to use without alienating any left-handed people.
It wouldn’t be the first time that Apple has secretly detected a user’s hand placements. The iPad mini presented a conundrum for the company, as it was almost small enough to hold in a hand but susceptible to spurious inputs at the edges. Apple tweaked the operating system to ignore these touches.
“iPad mini intelligently recognizes whether your thumb is simply resting on the display or whether you’re intentionally interacting with it,” the marketing literature read. “It’s the kind of detail you’ll notice — by not noticing it.”
As with most patents, it may be a while before we see this debut on any shipping iPhones. It does show, however, that Apple is keeping an eye on ways to improve the touchscreen nearly 10 years after the first iPhone debuted.