Filed in May of this year and made public this month, Samsung's latest patent application details a "method of operating functions of a portable terminal having a bended display." You can think of this as the manual for the crazy prototype shown off by the Korean company at CES in January.
It seemed outlandish then, and still has to prove its viability for a lot of people today, but that wraparound display is very much in Samsung's plans for next year. A Bloomberg report said as much last week, plus the company's 2013 Analyst Day has already committed it to "bended" smartphone displays sometime in 2014 or 2015. The distinguishing feature in Samsung's nomenclature between a curved display, such as on the Galaxy Round, and a so-called bended one appears to be in the severity of the curve. This slide from its recent presentation shows the hierarchy from curved to bended to flexible displays.
Back in January, we only saw a glimpse of the potential uses of a side-screen on your phone, but Samsung's present submission to the US Patent Office is far more detailed and rigorous. Just how useful any of these applications will be, however, must remain a question until they make the transition from paper to a bended reality.
- Slide the side to unlock Starting at the beginning, Samsung reimagines the slide-to-unlock gesture as a side-mounted experience.
- A place for your bookmarks One of Samsung's proposed usage scenarios is to push chapter markers and bookmarks off the main screen when reading ebooks.
- See the attachment on the side of your phone Samsung envisions using the extra real estate on the side to provide information about email attachments.
- Charging meter A cute and highly visual way to check if your phone's fully charged: the side-screen would display a bar representation of the handset's charged state. This would be a good match with Samsung's AMOLED displays, which only turn on the pixels that need to display something, making it a power-efficient solution.
- Contacts up front, alphabet on the side As with the majority of other applications, Samsung's contact book concept pushes the organizational aspects of the UI literally off to the side, cleaning up the main display.
- Visual clipboard The Galaxy Note 3 brought a major overhaul to Samsung's software for clipping and sharing content from the web, and that emphasis is apparent in the new patent application. It details a visual clipboard that lets you stash one or more images on the side panel and then reuse them in things like chat apps.
- Scrollable image index While the main screen displays a conventional gallery overview, its sidecar can serve as a category sorter — scrolling through such things as event dates.
- Multitouch quick actions If unlocking your phone with a slide is too conventional, Samsung will also let you do it by placing two fingers on particular areas of the side screen. Additionally, once inside the UI, there'll be other quick actions available to speed up the user experience. Interestingly, the drawings here show the Android buttons rendered in software rather than in capacitive or physical keys — which is something Samsung hasn't yet done with it flagship phones.