updated 03:30 pm EST, Thu December 10, 2009
Anti-tampering mechanisms would deter user repair
Two new Apple patent applications have emerged at the US Patent and Trademark Office, directed at the company's handhelds. The first covers an anti-tampering label, inserted inside of a device. On pulling a product apart the label would tear, without being easily replaceable. Technicians would thus be able to tell if someone had opened up electronics on their own, normally invalidating any warranty.
While potentially saving companies like Apple money, such labels can also discourage user or third-party repair. Apple products have become increasingly difficult to disassemble in recent years, in part because of compact design, but also because of deliberate decisions. MacBook batteries can no longer be swapped on the fly, and the fifth-generation iPod nano is held together with glue, making it difficult to pry open.
A second suggested patent addresses accelerometer controls. Motion commands are omnipresent on the iPhone and iPod touch, allowing people to rotate their view, or directly control games and other apps. Under a new concept however people would also be able to control playback menus, for instance flicking an iPod to scroll through songs; gesturing in another direction might select a track. To improve precision, an accelerometer could be set to judge the intensity of each gesture.