updated 10:10 am EST, Thu November 20, 2008
Apple Bkgrd Display Patent
Apple has developed a technology that would let iPhones and iPods display basic warnings to users without invoking the full screen, a new US patent filing shows. The system would use a second, always-on but power-efficient backlight to illuminate a custom-shaped notification when the main backlight isn't switched on, such as an indication that an iPod is stopped or an SMS text message has reached an iPhone.
The system could support multiple lights and also support different behaviors for each light depending on the context. A play/pause symbol could change from green to red to confirm that music has changed status, while a battery notice could blink or pulse gradually to warn when a device is running low on energy. Users could optionally program the behavior themselves rather than having it pre-defined by Apple.
Credited to Apple worker Michael Rosenblatt, the patent isn't necessarily an indication of any future products from the company but is described as a potential solution to status indicators that avoids having to clutter or complicate hardware design by adding extra lights. Devices like BlackBerry smartphones often have a separate light, for example, to indicate when new mail has shown up in a user's inbox.