KEY POINTS

  • A new patent shows Apple's interest in making iPhones work underwater
  • The patent shows how future iPhones can work while submerged in water
  • The patent reveals that it can work using simpler user interfaces and more

Apple has been hard at work in making its newer iPhones waterproof. Now, a new patent reveals that the company isn't just concerned with making sure that their handsets are capable of withstanding splashes and being dropped in the sink – they are looking at making iPhones useful under water.

A new patent published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and first spotted by Apple Insider shows that Apple is looking to create a simple user interface for use when an iPhone is submerged in water. The new patent talks about technologies that will allow such handsets to determine if they are under water so that it can respond accordingly.

iPhone users know that it sometimes takes several taps on the screen in order to do something. Making a call, for example, takes more than one tap. Launching certain apps like the camera or flashlight can also take more than one action, depending on how users arrange their Home Screen.

While this kind of setup is easy to deal with, Apple knows that things change when the iPhone is submerged in water. The company noted that interfaces need to be simpler, more efficient, and will not require users to spend more energy getting their device to do what they want.

“Current methods for displaying user interfaces while an electronic device is under water are outdated, time consuming, and inefficient,” Apple stated in the patent.

“There is a need for electronic devices that provide efficient methods and interfaces for accessing underwater user interfaces displayed on the electronic devices,” it added.

What it does

The patent explains how an iPhone can potentially function while underwater.

First, there are some technologies that will allow the device to detect whether it is submerged in water. If an iPhone is submerged, the display will show an “underwater indicator” at the top of the screen.

Next, when the iPhone detects being underwater, it will shift to another user interface. The device can have one of two underwater interface styles, Patently Apple noted.

Both interface styles allow users to activate certain apps or functions (e.g. Camera, Flashlight, Timer) by tapping in certain areas of the screen. The major difference between them, as per patent illustrations, like in the position of the areas that can be tapped to access certain apps. The patent also reveals that these apps might have simplified interfaces as well. 

The patent explains all of these in great detail. It doesn't, however, reveal a potential launch date for the feature. Those who are interested in seeing the patent for themselves can check it here.

iPhone 11 Pro Unboxing iPhone 11 Pro. Photo: Aaron Yoo(CC BY-ND 2.0)