Mobile gaming is a booming business but there's something not quite right about trying to control cars, spaceships and football players on a touchscreen. Apple has a novel solution in the pipeline: a new Home button for its devices that doubles as a miniature joystick.
A newly published patent unearthed by Patently Apple shows a Home button that can pop up on demand to allow for more granular control in games and other apps. If Apple manages to get it working alongside all its Touch ID circuitry, it'll be another impressive feat of engineering.
The patent itself addresses some of the main problems with touchscreen operation: namely the screen getting obscured by fingers and thumbs and the lack of tactile feedback.
Choose your modeAccording to the patent the new-look Home button would have two modes, one where the Home button works very much as it does today, and one where it pops up to provide joystick control along three axes. Users could switch between modes as required.
When the joystick isn't in use, the Home button remains flush with the rest of the device, so the aesthetics of the iPhone or iPad aren't ruined and the delicate circuitry underneath remains well protected.
As always with patents the usual disclaimer applies: this only shows what Apple is experimenting with, and it might never see the light of day. Nevertheless, it's a clever idea that would make a big difference to running games on iOS.