Recently unearthed patents suggest that Apple is exploring the possibility of implementing iPhone software with motion-awareness capabilities, which would enable the iPhone to manipulate the UI on the fly, and thus make interacting with the device easier in the process.
Here’s how it works.
A lot of people use the the iPhone and/or iPod Touch while engaging in some sort of physical activity, such as jogging for example. The movement associated with such activities, however, makes it difficult to interact with the UI, whether it be to navigate through a playlist or making a call. Apple’s solution to this problem is to make the iPhone motion-aware, enabling it to enlarge selection areas when it senses that the user is engaged in an activity such as running. This capability would makes it easier to access certain functions while also lowering the likelihood of accidental taps.
In the patent drawings below, note how the selection area for “John Adams” becomes much bigger when the motion-awareness feature is in effect. Apple writes in the patent application:
While the device is moving, the motion of the device can be detected. The device can change the size of the rows of the contacts in the contact list application to give the user a larger target area for each contact. For example, the height of a row can be increased. This gives the user a larger touch area with which to select a contact.
Also, note that the circular area located above the speaker (and labeled “180”) is a front facing video camera.