According to patent documents spotted by PatentlyApple, the company is working on side displays for iPhones and beyond, right now. These are not only able to display quick access icons but will also be touch sensitive.
Imagine being able to quickly switch on Wi-Fi, your light or open the camera at the touch of your thumb. Or, as the patent suggests, have access to in-depth camera controls while the phone is held up to take a photo.
Rather than tapping the screen and moving the camera, you could hold it steady, even in a mount, and still have access to the top buttons without moving your fingers or wobbling your grip. Ultimately this could all mean better quality pictures.
Interestingly this patent isn't limited to the iPhone but also includes the company's other devices. So we could see the Touch Bar makes its way off the MacBook Pro and onto the likes of the iPad or even the super mobile MacBook.
How will this work with iPhone cases? There is the possibility that this could work through a strengthened glass side layer. But more likely is that this will appear when Apple introduces unbreakable screens, something Samsung has already mastered. That, combined with waterproofing, will mean there is no longer a need for cases at all.
Expect to hear more on the iPhone 11 as rumours increase ahead of the expected reveal in September 2019.