Apple took multitouch gestures to a new level with the launch of the original iPhone. The iPhone 6s brought the concept even further, adding 3D Touch to detect pressure. Now it seems that future iOS devices may include the space above the screen as another level of input. In a patent granted this week the company details methods for hover detection, which could be used to sense gestures made without contacting the display surface at all.
Proximity sensors on future iPhones may be more sophisticated than current components. According to the patent titled Proximity sensors with smudge detection capabilities, malfunctions due to dirt on the display can be prevented. Sometimes a smudge on the glass will prevent the proximity sensor from switching the display on. The problem is the sensor believes the iPhone is against the user's head.
iPhone jailbreakers looking for a new way to invoke an Activator action can grab ProximityActivator. This jailbreak tweak adds a proximity sensor swipe to the list of possible gestures in Activator. Once the gesture is assigned to an action, the action can be invoked by simply moving a hand or finger over the proximity sensor. This means no touching or swiping the display at all.
Apple has made it clear that Siri will not be available on any other iOS devices besides the iPhone 4S. iFixit believes this has to due with the device's unique proximity sensor. The iFixit team discovered whenever the screen of the iPhone 4S is activated the proximity sensor turns on.
The proximity sensor in other iPhone models is basically an infrared LED light that lets the device know when a user's face is near the screen. This allows the iPhone to switch off its touch interface when someone is making a call. iFixit believes the sensor inside the iPhone 4S switches on constantly so users can easily access Siri.
Suppliers never stop selling parts, even if the device they're made for hasn't been released yet. We've seen iPad 2 parts leak out in advance of the tablet's official release and now it's the iPhone 5's turn. AppleInsider reports that an importer is selling a light proximity sensor flex cable for Apple's next smartphone.
The part is claimed to be genuine as the importer's home offices are practically next door to an Apple factory. When it comes to the proximity sensor itself, the design of the iPhone 5 part differs slightly from the current model, which could point to a redesign in the exterior of the next generation hardware.