large image

Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

iPhone home button thumbstick patent revealed

Apple has applied for a patent for a small joystick hidden within the iPhone home button.

The intriguing patent application, which has been discovered by Patently Apple, reveals a home button that would look and act normally in most situations.

However, supplying enough force would trigger a pressure sensor housed underneath, which would then cause the home button to pop out and become a small analogue thumbstick.

This thumbstick could receive X and Y axis inputs, as well as continuing to offer Z axis inputs – in other words, full directional control and a continued inward click function.

As that might suggest, this patent would have serious implications for iPhone gaming.

In the patent, Apple admits that touchscreen-only interfaces aren’t well suited to all types of games. For one thing, there’s an issue in the way that a user’s finger will naturally cover part of the action. There’s also a critical lack of tactile feedback in so-called virtual controls, which replicate the physical inputs of game pads as on-screen prompts.

Having a slide-out control pad, like the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, wouldn’t be very Apple. But a pop-out, multifunction home button just might.

Read More: Best iPhone games 2015

Of course, the iPhone’s home button already has a lot on its plate at present, which Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint authentication system only coming into play over the last 16 months.

But if Apple could finally work some kind of analogue control stick into its range without compromising on aesthetics it would solve an issue gamers have been complaining about since the time of the iPhone 3G and its initial roster of games.

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have 9 million users a month around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.