Apple is working on touchless controls and curved screens for the iPhone

iPhone X plant global sales
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

How does controlling an iPhone without directly touching it sound to you? Apparently it sounds pretty good to Apple, because the iPhone giant appears to be looking into touchless gesture technology for future iPhones, as well as new ways of implementing curved screens that would help Apple stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

While gesture-based touchless technology is likely to be at least 2 years away, it would allow users to make gestures above the surface of their phone’s screen, which would then be translated into actions by the phone. It can be seen as something of an evolution of the 3D Touch tech employed in iPhones since the iPhone 6S, and likely linked to the gesture-based controls seen in last year’s iPhone X, which lacked a physical home button.

Samsung showcased a similar feature named “Air Gestures” way back in 2014 on the Galaxy S4, but has not yet expanded on the idea. It could be that Apple would be the first company to take this sort of idea through to a larger execution.

The same source also states that Apple is working on curved screens as well — but not the same sort of curved screen that you might see on a Galaxy S9 or Note 8. Instead, Apple is apparently working on displays that would curve inwards from top to bottom, rather than curving off at the sides of the screen. Quite how this sort of design would work we’re not entirely sure — but it would certainly be a bold new direction for the iPhone, and one that Android manufacturers would find harder to copy than the iPhone X’s notch.

Part of the issue in creating curved screens has been the relative lack of supply for OLED displays. Apple ran into supply issues with the iPhone X — which had Apple’s first iPhone OLED display — and likely wishes to avoid similar concerns with future iPhones. With rumors of an iPhone X Plus and an iPhone SE 2, Apple is probably looking to secure as large a supply of OLED screens as possible. A move by Apple toward making its own MicroLED displays — the next step up in screen tech — is also likely 3 to 5 years away, so don’t expect to see that any time soon.

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