(Updated to reflect comment from Google)
So, you're on your phone or tablet, using your two thumbs to surf the net, text your friends, play a game or whatever else. Do you realize that you are leaving four or eight (depending on how many hands you are using to hold the thing) other fingers without anything to do? I guess you could use them to tap your favorite song, but that might seriously start to annoy everyone around you. You could hold up some gang signs if you really wanted to, but then you might get shot. Honestly, this is all starting to sound a little dangerous to me.
Wouldn't it be great if you could put those fingers to good use? Google certainly wants you to, filing a recent patent that could signal the next wave of mobile devices.
Google has applied for a patent that would bring controls to the backside of future Android phones and tablets, according to PatentBolt.
These controls could have numerous advantages: they could allow users to turn e-book pages, scroll through photos or music or pause their video, simply by hitting a button, or swiping, on the back of the device. They would also, of course, also be great for gamers, who are used to having buttons on both the front and back of their controllers.
Backside buttons could open up a whole new world for Androin phone and tablets users, and make using the devices go even faster.
In fact, the implimentation of backside controls seems like such an obvious idea, you might be wondering why nobody thought of it before, especially Apple. Well, it turns out they did.
Apple filed a similar patent for backside controls in 2006, according toPatentlyApple article from 2010, which would have put touch-areas, or zones, on the back that users would either have had to either tap, press, or slid across a touch surface, to access.
Of course, Apple never did anything with that patent, for whatever reason, and now the company will be facing competition from Google to see who gets there first.
"We file patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees come up with. Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don't. Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patent applications," a Google spokesperson told VatorNews.
Some potential disadvantages
With all of the advantages that come with putting those extra fingers to use, I feel that I should point that out there are also some potential problems that could be on the horizon as well.
First, there will be the strong possiblity of users hitting a backside button by accident. Google, Apple and the other manufacturers will need to be careful to distinguish between someone simply holding the device, and a user who is intentionally trying to use the backside controls. If users frequently find themselves unintentionally hitting buttons and messing with what they are doing, there could be a quick backlash.
There is also the fact that many people I know who use tablets have them in protective cases to keep their devices from being damaged. The manufacturers will have to work around this problem, perhaps by designing new cases, with new holes in the back, to allow users to reach the new buttons.
If nothing else, at least the back controls would stop the discrimination by mobile manufacturers against the thumbless.
(Image source: http://deviantmbl.deviantart.com)