Apple patents smart bezel for iDevices

A new patent filed by Apple shows how the company may add a secondary display to the bezel of its portable gadgets.

Unearthed, as usual, by Patently Apple, the filing shows how the iPhone maker could add a secondary display to a device which would illuminate to give users hints on where to prod the touch-screen interface depending on what's going on on the main screen.

"To assist a user in providing inputs, traditional devices use the display to provide indicators to the user regarding where and how to provide a touch input," reads the filing. "For example, a traditional device may display a virtual button on a touch screen to indicate that a user can touch that portion of the screen to provide an input. However, providing such indicators occupies space on the touch screen that could otherwise be used for displaying visual content."

We're not quite sure why the normally sober Patently Apple is getting quite so excited about a series of glowing electroluminescent panels taking up room on devices which, for Apple, are all about making the screen as big and the bezel as small as possible.

The report seems to suggest that the secondary display will be able to "morph" into various customised buttons but that's not the way we are reading it. To us it just looks like a ring of pretty lights which suggest you 'prod me here'.

But as touch-screens are probably the most expensive component in all of Apple's gadgets, anything that frees up more of display for visual output will probably be a bonus.

Of course, this may well just end up in a filing cabinet with the hundreds of other Apple patents which never see the light of day