The patent was filed with USPTO last August, and has only just been published. The document is for "force or touch sensing on a mobile device using capacitive or pressure sensing". That translates to a device being able to differentiate between different measures of pressure, but coupled with the sections that refer to it being "immersed in fluid" it looks like Apple is taking it one step further.
- iPhone 12 looks ready to take on the Galaxy S20 in this new trailer
- NEW: Incredible folding iPhone 12 design
Apple's iPhone 7 and later are all IP68 rated, with the newest iPhone 11 being able survive at a maximum depth of two meters for up to 30 minutes, while the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max can survive at a maximum depth of four meters for up to 30 minutes.
Given that they're already water (and dust) resistant, this patent is entirely new ground for iPhones. It seems like the screen will be able to tall the difference between a splash of water and deliberately-applied pressure from a user's finger so that it can be used as normal even when covered in water.
- iOS 14 video shows how new iPhone 12 will be a rapid multitasking machine
- iPhone 12 leak reveals Apple has a Galaxy S20-beating ace up its sleeve
More specifically, the patent a makes numerous mentions to the device being "immersed in a fluid," which leads to the natural assumption that the technology in the screen will allow it to function while under water.
The upcoming Galaxy S20 is also IP68 certified, which you'd expect with any flagship from such a large company, but it isn't capable of anything like this.
We may see this exciting new tech make its debut in the iPhone 12, or perhaps it's being worked on with the intention to roll it out in a smaller device, like the Apple Watch 6, but Apple is breaking new ground and we could see its latest innovation very soon.