A new report out of Bloomberg this morning suggests that Apple is developing two new pieces of technology for future iPhone models: one is touchless gesture control and the other is a curved display. Both projects are said to be at the early stages of research and development, at least two years away from potentially making it into consumer devices.
Apple’s closest rival, Samsung, has already offered versions of both technologies in its prior models. Air Gestures on the Galaxy S4 allowed users to browse between photos or scroll a webpage just by swiping in the air above the phone, while Air View would function much like Apple’s 3D Touch, exposing additional information when you hover your finger over a trigger area. Flagship Samsung Galaxy S phones have had curved screen sides for years now, though the Bloomberg report indicates Apple’s curved iPhone display would “curve inward gradually from top to bottom.”
Hover gestures have been a popular topic of experimentation among tech companies, with Microsoft having also worked on an implementation of them for its ill-fated Windows Phone platform. Microsoft’s Kinect-like phone gestures showed a lot of promise for the idea, though a coherent and compelling use of floating touch interactions hasn’t yet been demonstrated on a retail device. That leaves ample room for Apple to do what it usually does, which is to arrive late to an idea but popularize it through smarter and better integration into its overall user experience.