Apple patent hints at Force Touch volume rocker on a future iPhone

It looks like Apple is continuing to wage its war on physical buttons. The company has already removed function keys from the keyboard on the MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar, as well as eliminated the Home button from the iPhone. Now, it could be the volume rocker’s turn — Apple has filed a patent for a touch-sensitive rocker switch that could ultimately find its way to the iPhone and perhaps even the Apple Watch.

The patent itself is a continuation of a patent that was filed in 2016, and highlights the use of multiple force sensors and a capacitive sensing surface in place of a rocker switch like the volume rocker on an iPhone. This could make for a much more aesthetically pleasing look for the iPhone, while limiting the number of physical, breakable buttons on the device.

This wouldn’t be the first time that Apple has used its Force Touch tech. Not only do laptops employ the tech in the touchpad, but current iPhones also use it under the display as a way to interact with some aspects of the software. On the iPhone, the tech is called 3D Touch. Ultimately, the tech could be more appropriate on the Apple Watch. Apple is increasingly working on making the Apple Watch more of a fitness tracker, which means it will need to make it more rugged too. Currently, the device has a Digital Crown and a button on the side — but if those physical controls could be replaced with a Force Touch button, it could make the device a little less likely to break or suffer water damage. The images in the patent show both iPhones and Apple Watches.

Of course, this particular patent relates specifically to rocker switches, like the volume rocker on the iPhone. If Apple does end up using Force Touch controls on the iPhone instead of the volume rocker, the device could look a little sleeker and minimalist.

Ultimately, this just a patent — so it’s entirely possible that the tech will never end up being used in volume rockers. Apple routinely files patents for tech it doesn’t end up using.

Product Review

The new iPad Mini isn’t a beauty, but it performs like a beast

Apple’s new iPad Mini has beastly performance, fluid iOS 12 software, and good battery life. It also looks like it came straight out of 2015, because the design hasn’t been changed. Here's our review of Apple’s 7.9-inch tablet.
Mobile

Apple patents hint at improved Apple Store and unboxing experiences

It looks like Apple is working on ways to improve the Apple Store and product unboxing experiences. The company has been awarded a few patents, largely for tech that can be used in product packaging to ensure products stay charged.
Mobile

Apple patent suggests Apple Watch bands could have built-in fitness indicators

Apple may be exploring ways to make Apple Watch bands a little more useful. A new patent has been filed by Apple that suggests Apple Watch bands could eventually have indicators for things like fitness goals.
Deals

From Air to Pro, here are the best MacBook deals for March 2019

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.
Mobile

Here are the best iPad Pro keyboard cases to pick up with your new tablet

The iPad Pro range can double as laptops, but they do need proper keyboards to fill in effectively. Thankfully, there are loads to choose from and we rounded up the best iPad Pro keyboard cases right here.
Mobile

24 must-have apps for rooted Android phones and tablets

Rooting your Android device opens up a world of possibilities, along with a few apps. Here are 24 of our favorites, so you can make the most of your rooted device and unleash the true power of Android.
Wearables

Alpina makes its AlpinerX smartwatch even more attractive with new colors

Alpina has introduced four new colors to its AlpinerX smartwatch range, breaking the usually sporty watch out into a more everyday casual design, and given the tech a slight makeover too.
Mobile

Wring the most out of iOS with the best commands for Siri

You may not know all the things you can say to Siri -- after all, Apple never released an official list of commands for its virtual assistant. Thankfully, we've compiled a list of the best Siri commands to help you out.
Computing

Breeze through security with these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags

Getting through airport security is a drag, but your laptop bag shouldn’t be. Thankfully, these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags will get you and your gear to your destination with ease.
Mobile

Flex your thumbs (and your brain) with these fun texting games

Gaming consoles keep getting more advanced, but you can still have fun with the good old Latin alphabet. Here are our picks for the best texting games, so you can make the most fun out of that limited data plan or basic cell phone.
Mobile

New gold finish makes Frederique Constant’s hybrid smartwatch flashier than ever

Frederique Constant has found considerable success with its luxury hybrid smartwatch, the Hybrid Manufacture, and has launched several new color schemes to help bring it even more attention.
Wearables

Tag Heuer’s Golf Edition smartwatch is a lot more than just a flash of new color

Tag Heuer's Golf Edition Connected Modular 45 smartwatch has a lot more going for it than just a flashy new color scheme. From the titanium body and black PVD coating to the new Golf app, this is a true special edition.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Mobile

Firefox Send file-sharing service is now an Android app

Mozilla has just launched Firefox Send as an Android app. The free service lets you share files of up 2.5GB via a web link that expires after a certain period of time or number of downloads.