The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has officially granted Apple a new patent for “Modifying functionality of an electronic device during a wetness exposure event,” which may make it simpler to use an iPhone in the rain. Even though your phone is presumably designed to survive some moisture, typing on a wet display or with damp hands is still difficult.
If the iPhone is used underwater or in light rain, Apple intends to make the screen automatically adjust to the moisture. The technology described in the patent will be used to identify and get rid of false taps on the screen caused by the liquid. To increase the precision of pushing the proper button when the screen is wet, on-screen controls might shift in accordance, with buttons getting bigger and farther apart from each other.
A pressure-sensitive screen akin to Apple’s defunct Force Touch and 3D Touch technologies would also immediately switch over to the capacitive iPhone display at the same time. Apple would require these finger presses to have more force than a dynamic threshold that would change depending on the type of moisture event (light rain, for example) that is making the touch screen difficult to accurately type on. This would prevent rain drops or liquid from accidentally setting off touch inputs.
An picture in the patent papers depicts an iPhone camera app with settings for “dry,” “wet,” and “underwater” modes. The camera user interface changes depending on the mode. For example, in wet mode, some functions are eliminated from the UI while in underwater
In order for the user to maintain the device within the handset’s water resistance limits, the phone’s display will show the current depth of the device. To avoid confusing consumers, Apple will need to be careful when expanding the size and moving the camera UI buttons around.
Over the course of a year, Apple receives a large number of patents, but not all of them result in new technology that is used straight away. It’s uncertain whether Apple will be eager to use this patent straight soon.