Apple has patented the solution that lets you use your iPhone in the rain, or even underwater

The problem is already well known. The touch interface stops working properly as soon as you get your iPhone screen wet. If you also dip it in seawater, there’s no hope of using the phone for underwater photography or filming.

Attributed to the giant Apple, the document issued by the US Patent and Trademark Office is for innovations that allow “altering the functionality of an electronic device during a moisture exposure event”. Translated into easy-to-understand terms, it’s about using an iPhone in the rain.

While most recent-generation smartphones are built to withstand moisture, the promise of flawless operation doesn’t include situations involving direct contact with water, from raindrops that can confuse the capacitive touch interface to complete immersion in water, at which point any iPhone becomes de facto unusable.

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According to Apple’s patent, the iPhone’s screen must adapt to moisture whether it’s accidental splashing, light rain, constant soaking, or complete immersion in water.

False liquid-generated screen taps should thus also be detected by software algorithms, picking up only commands intentionally applied by the user.

The patent also provides additional ways to improve the success rate of commands applied on the touch interface, such as resizing the interface to display larger or more differentiated buttons, minimizing misinterpretation of touch commands.

Another solution described in the patent provides for switching the touch interface to pressure-sensitive mode, similar to the use of Force Touch or 3D Touch technologies, which have since been abandoned. In other words, future iPhone models should be able to switch between different modes of interpreting touch commands, using hardware that has since been phased out for cost-cutting reasons. The plan is to use the defunct Force Touch technology to measure the impact force of raindrops, thus distinguishing real touch controls from erroneous measurements.

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The exact mode of use would be selectable by changing a setting included in the capture app, choosing between options such as “dry” “wet” and “underwater”

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