All-glass iPhone, Apple Watch, Mac Pro tower – patent granted

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Jony Ive has long talked about the idea of an all-glass iPhone, dubbed “a single slab of glass” – and the company has now been granted a patent for a potential design, along with a glass Apple Watch and Mac Pro tower.

The illustration of the all-glass iPhone is the most detailed, showing displays on both sides, as well as functional touchscreen buttons on the edges …

Patents are generally written in the most general of terms, which makes Apple’s abstract (spotted by Patently Apple) sound a little like it’s claiming to have invented the concept of a glass box.

An electronic device includes a six-sided glass enclosure defining an interior volume and comprising a first glass member and a second glass member. The first glass member defines at least a portion of a first major side of the six-sided glass enclosure, at least a portion of a peripheral side of the six-sided glass enclosure, a first region along the peripheral side and having a first thickness, and a second region along the peripheral side and having a second thickness different from the first thickness. The second glass member is attached to the first glass member and defines at least a portion of a second major side of the six-sided glass enclosure. The electronic device further includes a touchscreen display within the interior volume and positioned adjacent at least a portion of each of the six sides of the six-sided glass enclosure.

Similarly, the potential applications are described in broad terms, also including both laptops and tablets.

Modern consumer electronic devices take many shapes and forms, and have numerous uses and functions. Smartphones, notebook computers, and tablet computers, for example, provide various ways for users to interact with other people, as well as access information, work, play games, and so forth. Such devices use enclosures to house delicate electrical components, to allow a user to easily interact with and use the device, and to provide a desired shape, form factor, and overall appearance of the device. Enclosures for electronic devices may be formed in various ways and using various materials. For example, enclosures may be formed of plastic or metal […]

An electronic device includes an enclosure comprising a monolithic glass member defining at least a portion of each of a first wall defining a first major surface of the enclosure, a second wall defining a second major surface of the enclosure, and four peripheral walls defining four peripheral surfaces of the enclosure. The electronic device may also include a display within the enclosure and adjacent at least a portion of the first wall and at least a portion of a first peripheral wall of the four peripheral walls, and a touch sensing system within the enclosure and configured to detect touch inputs applied to the enclosure. 

The idea of multiple and extendable displays isn’t new, of course. There are folding phones, dual-display phones, and phones that extend touchscreen functionality to the edges.

But Apple’s patent takes this to a whole new level, envisaging the possibility of the device essentially compromising displays on all sides – something which would require rather sophisticated palm-rejection to avoid accidental touches!

Apple’s illustrations of Apple Watch and Mac Pro tower don’t have the same level of detail.

We often remind that Apple patents many things that never come to market, and this one seems especially conceptual in nature rather than a steer toward actual products. A real all-glass iPhone seems a stretch, but it’s certainly interesting to see the company exploring these sorts of ideas.

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