Is the Apple Watch’s Digital Crown dial really heading for the iPhone?

iphone digital crown ipad
When Apple unveiled its first-ever smartwatch back in September 2014, the company made much of the device’s Digital Crown. A turn of the side wheel lets you quickly and easily zoom and scroll through content, while a gentle press takes you back to the home screen.

A side wheel on a watch, smart or not, surprises no one, but what we’re about to tell you might – the Cupertino company has apparently also been considering adding that wheel to its iOS devices.

An Apple patent published this week by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) shows the Digital Crown – or as the filing describes it, a “rotary input device” – on the side of an iPad.

The tech giant suggests that for iOS devices, the Digital Crown could be used “as a volume controller or locking the touchscreen, turning on the touch screen, taking a picture, resizing text, and other actions,” reports Patently Apple, which first spotted the filing.

The filing for the patent was made in early 2014, at least six months before Apple unveiled its Watch. While it may be suggested Apple was merely using the iPad as cover in order to avoid referencing its at-that-time unconfirmed smartwatch, the filing does actually mention, and show, a smartwatch. Also, by early 2014 it was already widely expected that the company was prepping its first-ever wrist-based device.

Truth be told, the idea that Apple might add physical components to the iPad and iPhone seems rather far fetched. Indeed, there’s been plenty of talk over the years suggesting a future iPhone design will replace the physical Home button with a touch-only alternative – the next iPhone could be the first to do so. Anyway, while we can see the point of a wheel on a watch, adding one to a handset to perform functions we can already do with ease seems like a pointless move, and it’d also be an additional component ripe for malfunction.

Of course, no patent-related article would be complete without including the message that this is just a patent and so the design may never see the light of day. And with this particular filing, we’re pretty sure this cautionary note applies more than ever.

What do you think about the idea of a side wheel on your iPhone or iPad? A stroke of genius, or a dumb idea? Let us know in the comments below.


Wearables are still in style as the global market sees solid growth

According to a recent report from IDC, the wearable market is growing -- and as is to be expected, Apple, with the Apple Watch, is at the top of the list. Currently, the company commands a hefty 17 percent of the market.

Hey, Sony! If you make a PS2 Classic, it needs these games

158 million PS2 consoles were sold worldwide during its lifecycle, making it the most successful video game console of all time. It was hard, but we narrowed down the PS2's vast library of games. Here are the best PS2 games of all time.

Apple MacBook Air vs. Microsoft Surface Pro 6

The MacBook Air was updated with more contemporary components and a more modern design, but is that enough to compete with standouts like Microsoft's Surface Pro 6 detachable tablet?

Dig into the tasty Android 9.0 Pie open beta on the OnePlus 6

The OnePlus 6 is an incredible smartphone with flagship levels of power and style -- and now with Android 9.0 Pie. The OnePlus 6 Android 9.0 Pie open beta has begun, and here's how you can download it.

Snap's Spectacles 2 can take stills and don't mind the rain

Snapchat has announced new styles for its Spectacles camera-equipped sunglasses. Spectacles 2 are able to take still images and are water-resistant. They're available to order now through Snap's website. 
Social Media

Looking to officially rid your inbox of Facebook messages? Here's how

Deleting messages from Facebook Messenger is almost as easy as scrolling through your News Feed. Here, we show you how to delete an entire conversation or a single message, both of which take seconds.

Opinion: Apple needs to modernize its antiquated annual app update routine

While Google updates its core Android apps frequently through the Play Store, Apple saves up core app updates for its annual iOS unveiling. Perhaps it’s time that Apple took a new approach.

Google researchers examine how to combat smartphone addiction

Smartphones are built to be engaging, but the likes of Google and Apple are finally working on ways to help people manage their tech time. In fact, a new Google study notes that in general people feel an obligation to their tech.

Want the best car charger? Hit the road, Jack, with one of our favorites

Everyone knows the market is flooded with chargers, but few of them balance style with functionality. Thankfully, we've rounded up seven offerings that do, whether you use an iPhone or Android device.

Uber’s upcoming ‘Ride Check’ feature could save your life

Uber's Ride Check feature aims to get help as soon as possible if you're unlucky enough to be involved in a crash in one of its cars. The technology uses GPS and sensors built into smartphones, and launches in the next few months.

How to buy a refurbished iPhone

There’s a lot to consider when you’re looking for a new iPhone and it can be very expensive. Save yourself some heartache and some money with our guide on how to buy a refurbished iPhone.

Material Design 2 update spruces up Google Photos — here’s how to get it

Whether you love it or hate it, Material Design 2 is the future of Google's services. Google Photos is the latest app to be updated to the new look. Here's what you can expect, and how to update right now.

How to check if your iPhone 8 has a faulty logic board and is part of a recall

Apple says a number of iPhone 8 models have faulty logic boards that may cause the phones to suddenly restart or freeze. Here's how to check if your iPhone 8 has been recalled by Apple.

Buying a new iPhone? Here's how to sell your old one without getting ripped off

Whether you're looking to upgrade to the latest-and-greatest model, making the switch to Android, or just in dire need of some cold, hard cash, here's how to sell your iPhone without getting ripped off.