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Apple receives patent for technology that helps iPhone users type in the rain

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Apple has just granted a new patent of the US Patent and Trademark Office called “Changing the functionality of an electronic device during exposure to moistureThat could make it easier to use an iPhone in the rain. Sure, your phone is probably built to withstand some moisture, but that doesn’t make it easy to type on a wet screen or with wet fingers.
Apple plans to adapt the iPhone’s screen to the moisture, whether it’s light rain, a steady soak, or if the handset is used underwater. False taps on the screen generated by the liquid are detected by the technology listed in the patent and eliminated. The on-screen controls may change accordingly as the buttons get larger, while also being further apart from other buttons to improve the accuracy of pressing the right button when the screen is wet.
At the same time, the capacitive iPhone display would automatically turn into a pressure-sensitive screen, similar to Apple’s discontinued Force Touch and 3D Touch technologies. To prevent raindrops or liquid from accidentally activating the touch input, Apple would require these finger presses to have more force than a dynamic threshold that would change depending on the type of moisture event (light rain, heavy rain, for example) making it difficult to type accurately on the touchscreen.

An image in the patent documentation shows an iPhone camera app that offers settings for “dry”, “wet” and “underwater” modes. Depending on the mode, changes are made to the camera’s user interface. For example, wet mode removes some features from the user interface, while underwater mode replaces some controls with oversized buttons. They are easier to activate underwater, but have limited functionality.

The phone’s display shows the current depth of the device, allowing the user to keep it within the water-resistance limits of the handset. Apple will have to be careful with the size expansion and the location changes of the camera UI buttons to ensure that users don’t get confused.

Apple gets so many patents over the course of a year and not all of them result in new technology being implemented right away. It is not clear whether Apple is interested in implementing this patent right away.

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