Apple has been granted a panted that, among other things, exposes the company"s possible plans for a flexible, curvediPhone with virtual buttons.
The patent was originally filed in 2011 and first surfaced in March 2013, but as of now it officially belongs to Apple.
The images from the patent, first seen a year ago, show a curved iPhone with a wraparound display that grants it extra surface area able to display five apps per row.
The hypothetical new iPhone can use multiple cameras to track users" faces and adjust the display accordingly.
In addition the patent covers virtual buttons, which would be a first for an Apple mobile.
Apple has long stood by its physical home button, and the volume and lock buttons have always seemed essential as well. But this patent shows that the input configuration of Apple"s iPhones may not be as cemented in stone as one might have thought.
The volume control in this version is still on the left side, but has some added functionality. For example, the volume level would be visible at all times, and touching the virtual buttons in a certain way could expand the control to span the entire left side of the phone, giving users finer control.
In addition the lock button"s functionality could hypothetically be controlled using touch gesture"s on the phone"s sides.
Now that Apple"s been granted this patent, will we see all these features in the iPhone 6? It seems unlikely, but you never know.