Apple is quickly cementing its place in the market as the company that cares about its users’ privacy. For this reason, the iPhone maker has embedded privacy into its iOS 13 operating system update by giving people more control over the data apps such as Facebook and Google collect.
Now it’s possible Apple may make another cool new privacy move, with a “privacy film” integrated into future flat or curved devices. That’s according to the ever-reliable Patently Apple, which spotted a new patent published by the US Patent & Trademark Office today (February 13).
The patent hints at either a film integrated into the Apple device’s display, or a separate removable add on that can be placed over the screen.
Why do you need an Apple privacy film?
In an age of increasing cyber-attacks and privacy invasions, no one wants random people looking at their screen. You keep nearly everything on your phone and laptop, and potential attackers could for example see you entering a password, or view business or private health data while you are commuting to work.
Adding to the risk, the displays on your devices themselves are usually designed to display images so you can see them from different positions. This creates more opportunities for someone to see your laptop, iPad or iPhone screen.
Details on the privacy film
The patent describes a privacy film that “may have a light-blocking layer that is interposed between first and second transparent substrates.”
It adds: “The light-blocking layer may have a plurality of opaque portions and a plurality of transparent portions. The opaque portions may be shaped to ensure light from the display is directed only to the primary viewer of the display. Each opaque portion of the light-blocking layer may extend along a respective longitudinal axis between the first and second transparent substrates.”
The patent also hints at a future Apple curved display by describing a “privacy film that may be used in curved displays.” Detailed illustrations can be seen on the patent.
The patent reads: “Privacy films used to cover curved displays may have opaque portions that extend along longitudinal axes that have different angles relative to the transparent substrates. Opaque portions in the edge of the privacy film may have longitudinal axes that are at non-perpendicular angles with respect to the transparent substrates. A privacy film for a curved display may also include a light-redirecting layer such as a prism layer or a liquid crystal layer.”
Apple lists the following devices as relevant to the invention: A laptop computer (MacBook); a computer monitor containing an embedded computer (iMac); a tablet computer (iPad); a cellular telephone (iPhone); a media player (iPod Touch), or other handheld or portable electronic device; a smaller device such as a wrist-watch device (Apple Watch); a pendant device; a headphone or earpiece device; a device embedded in eyeglasses or other equipment worn on a user’s head; or other wearable or miniature device; a gaming device; a navigation device; an embedded system such as a system in which electronic equipment with a display is mounted in a kiosk or automobile and beyond.
The future privacy and security of Apple devices
The patent comes at a time when Apple is focusing heavily on privacy and security. Earlier this week, a patent hinted that the Apple Watch could soon add biometric authentication, just as it becomes possible to use the smartwatch as a car key in soon-to-launch iOS 13.4.
Also this week, it emerged that Apple had made the significant move to join the FIDO Alliance, an organization committed to moving away from reliance on passwords and towards biometrics and security keys.
Of course, there are no guarantees as far as patents are concerned, but the idea of a privacy film is pretty cool. As people start to care more about their security and privacy, an addition such as this could even help sway your decision when deciding on a product vendor.