Following a slightly unbelievable rumor suggesting Apple is, like LG and Samsung, planning a curved phone, a new patent suggests Apple is looking at pressure-sensitive touchscreens for future iPhones and iPads.
The patent, called "Touch-sensitive button with two levels," describes a touch-sensitive button similar to the iPhone's home button. This has neat implications for commanding the iPhone via different pressure gestures on the home button.
A practical upshot of this is that Apple could, if it put the system in place in an upcoming iPhone, enable really smart pressure-controlled user interface elements. For example, to confirm you want to delete a photo you may have to press hard on the screen—meaning accidental deletions would be less likely. It could also enable a whole host of really clever apps that we can't imagine yet—uses in fitness apps perhaps, or smart controls for games. That would differentiate the iPhone in an increasingly monotonous smartphone market.