In Jan 2010, we reported that Taipei-based analyst, Robert Chen, without identifying his source, had disclosed in his interview that:

Apple’s going to put a lot of innovation, not just on the hardware, but also on the software of the new iPhone. The handset will feature a new plastic casing similar to that used for Apple’s touch-panel Magic Mouse released last year.

Apple now has filed a new patent that lays out plans to release iPhones and iPads that will be covered with sensors which will make buttons like Home and Sleep/Wake obsolete. The patent that was filed on Tuesday, states that sensors could be placed under a device’s touchscreen, or even within its casing. This means that instead of having a homescreen button to press, one would simply swipe their finger along the bottom of the device to get back to their home page. For locking the device, or adjusting the volume, the user will simply swipe related gestures in place of buttons.

apple touch patent

For instance, holding an iPad-style tablet with one hand could trigger the slate to activate the sensors on the other side of the hardware, so that only the controlling hand can use them. Meanwhile on-screen controls could be shifted across accordingly. Smaller devices could… react to individual or chorded input from the fingers holding the handset; that would allow for single-handed use of an iPhone, for instance

Apple’s breaking off with buttons would definitely lead to a sleeker, smoother idevices that would fit with the company’s reputation for creating ultra-modern, aesthetically pleasing and products that were never seen before.

Rumors that Apple was working on multitouch casings and bezels, were heard for a while now but no one knows if any concrete work in the labs has been done so far. Apple now applying for this patent is a clear indicator that it is actively pursuing in this direction. A buttonless iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch anyway sounds so cool and is something that anyone would love to experience.   [Via Slash Gear]