Apple has patented and even created some strange, never to be seen things in the past. Its latest creation? Swappable and clip-on lenses for the iPhone camera.
According to Patently Apple, the US Patent and Trademark Office just published 31 new patents filed by the smartphone maker. Out of this pile one of the more possible design dockets suggests Apple could add a magnetic ring mounting point for additional external lenses.
Supposedly this magnetic ring would allow user to attach an accessory with three swappable lenses on a pinwheel. This accessory might add a wide-angle adapter or a piece of glass for slightly zoomed in portraits. There were also illustrations that featured a telephoto lens that would stick out very far iPhone’s back.
We’ve seen these add-on lens accessories before from multiple iPhone accessory makers. But we wouldn’t put it past Apple to add its own slew of glass too just as it jumped into cases and iPhone bumpers.
Beyond allowing users to attach different lenses, the magnetic lens could be charged with a small electric current to create a miniature magnetic field. The patent theorizes it could use magnetism to add optical image stabilization, autofocus, and zoom features to external lenses.
Autofocus is a must in the smartphone camera world and image stabilization has made it onto new handsets like the LG G2. However, adding lenses that zooms-in optically could bridge the gap between fixed focal length smartphone cameras and traditional pixel shooters.
In a slightly older patent from 2010 authored by Richard Tsai, who is now Apple’s senior camera engineer, future Apple iPhones could have customizable lenses and detachable backs.
The new design could replace the traditional camera unit for a camera sensor with a removable back panel and optical components. The removable portion of the case includes the lens that could be swapped out for a different focal length or one with more features including zoom and image stabilization.
As we’ve said before cameras are getting better and they’re going to be the real differentiator for smartphones in the coming year. It’s rumored the HTC M8 will employ a dual-sensor camera for better focusing, meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is said kick things up DSLR resolution at 16MP.
- Samsung dominated the 2013 smartphone market, shipping a third of devices in the world