As digital cameras get better and better, so does their competition. In fact, iPhones are currently most used camera for loading pictures onto websites like Flickr and Instagram. That could easily be due to the fact that iPhones are the most widely used portable electronic and their wide array of functions makes them the ultimate social website companion but you can bet Apple is going to try and capitalize on that.
It’s no wonder that Apple hopes to improve the iPhone’s camera functionality with the latest patent filed, published on Thursday. The patent is an idea for a swappable back panel for the iPhone that will offer different lens choices. As of now, no iOS supported devices give users a choice of lens or camera optics but this patent hopes to change that. The interchangeable panels would each have different lenses and removing the panel would expose the camera pieces but not the rest of the hardware in the phone. This patent was first filed in 2010.
There are lens add-on devices available for iPhones, like the Olloclip. This third-party piece attaches on the edge of the phone offers users a choice of a wide-angle lens, a fisheye lens, or a macro lens but the user can’t attach it without removing the phone’s case if the owner has one and it takes away from the phone’s portability. According to the patent file, Apple hopes to maintain iPhone’s portability while giving users the tools necessary to improve their photography with different lens options.
Ways this patent would improve the camera is that users would be able to take a wider variety of photos like black and white photos in poor lighting or detailed, close-up shots with a macro lens. This patent could eventually involve into the lens choices being incorporated permanently with the iPhone. For now, interchangeable back panels would allow a user to plan for their lens choice so they don’t have to carry the extra ones around. These removable and swappable back panels do go against Apple’s belief in simplicity and self-containment but by filing the patent, they’re at least ensuring that no other company can patent the idea. Though it’s not known for now if Apple will ever use the concept.
The iPhone 5 will not include the feature but if the swappable panels ever actually do get developed, it will surely help Apple create competition in the portable camera market. If you’re an avid iPhone user with photography skills, you can use those third-party devices while Apple’s patent attorney works on the patent and be assured that one day, the iPhone will most likely replace the average digital camera.
Before his death, Steve Jobs told his biographer that digital camera technology was a field he hoped to reinvent. This patent barely scratches the surface of that technology so if anyone is going to reinvent digital cameras, it would be Apple.
Evan Fischer is a contributing writer for Bob M. Cohen & Associates, the premier personal injury law group in Los Angeles.