Bloomberg, which has seemingly been on a roll in publishing news about future Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) products recently, is out with some new information about what features we should expect from future-generation iPhone models.
According to Bloomberg, Apple is working on "touchless gesture control and curved screens for future iPhones."
Let's dive into the details of this report, shall we?
A non-touch screen
The touchless gesture control, Bloomberg says, "would let iPhone users perform some tasks by moving their finger close to the screen without actually tapping it." This touchless gesture control won't find its way in a commercially available iPhone for "at least two years," Bloomberg says, cautioning that Apple hasn't even decided if it will bring this technology to market at all.
Additionally, Bloomberg reports that Apple is working on iPhone displays "that curve inward gradually from top to bottom," citing an individual familiar with Apple's product development plans.
Although curved screens have been done before -- Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF) has been building smartphones with curved displays for several generations now -- Bloomberg indicates that the curvature is of a different nature than that found on Samsung phone displays, which "curve down at the edges."
Unfortunately, if you were hoping to get your hands on an iPhone with a curved display this year, you're out of luck -- Bloomberg says that iPhones with such displays could be two to three years out.
What this means for Apple
The smartphone market has all but matured at this point and Apple is facing substantial competition from other smartphone vendors that are trying to capture share in the more lucrative high-end and premium portions of the smartphone market. For Apple to be able to maintain the kind of iPhone shipments and revenue that it currently enjoys, let alone any significant degree of growth, it needs to put out innovative products that encourage owners of older iPhone models to upgrade to new iPhones, while trying to coax Android users into switching.
It'd also help if Apple were to convince owners of non-Apple smartphones to choose an Apple product the next time that they upgrade.
Something like touchless gestures, if implemented properly, could prove to be a feature that's not only a nice marketing gimmick but something that improves the convenience and usability of future iPhones. Curved displays, like the ones that Bloomberg says Apple is working on, aren't likely to significantly improve the usability of future iPhones, but they could lead to more aesthetically pleasing devices.
Considering that smartphones, particularly premium models, are heavily judged based on their aesthetic appeal (this is something that likely hurt Apple over the last few years, as it used the same iPhone 6-esque design for four straight generations), it's little wonder that Apple would invest in new technologies that could improve that appeal.
Ultimately, it's good to know that Apple continues to invest aggressively in future technologies (something that, frankly, is pretty obvious from the company's continued research and development spending increases). However, the key for Apple won't just be to advance its products, but to advance its products in a way that makes it hard for competitors to catch up.