Apple patent reveals ultimate MagSafe iPhone accessory — here’s everything it could do

Apple iPhone 15 review.
(Image credit: Future)

MagSafe, which seems like a simple magnetic charging ring, has reinvigorated the smartphone accessory game. By simply adding a strong magnet to the back the iPhone, Apple has given itself and third-party accessory makers all kinds of new options. 

Now, Apple looks to be at it again. A new patent (via iMore) suggests the company is working on MagSafe dial that could offer all kinds of unique and interested functionality to iPhones with the magnetic technology. It takes a lot for a mobile accessory to get me pumped up, but the potential this one offers is doing the job.

What is Apple's latest MagSafe patent?

Apple's new patent for the rotatable MagSafe dial.

(Image credit: US Patent Office)

Basically, the Apple patent describes a MagSafe accessory with a rotatable dial. Like MagSafe itself, it sounds incredibly simple. And on the surface, it is. But what makes it exciting is the opportunities it opens up for new ways to interact with your beloved iPhone by simply giving the dial a little twist. 

The rotatable control element will let you perform several key functions on your phone by simply twisting it. It'll let you mess with your device's settings or zoom in while taking a photo more naturally than the pinch to zoom we've grown accustomed to. 

Here's the full rundown of functions the patent suggests the device could be used for:

  • Zoom
  • Volume
  • Focus
  • Video Scrubbing
  • Depth of Field
  • Cover Flow
  • Compensation
  • Tool Switcher
  • Filter Selector
  • Camera Mode

As it stands, all of those are accessed via layers of menus and options within iOS, but if this patented accessory comes to market, you could have a much quicker way to use them. And while a lot of the functions involve photography and videography, it's easy to imagine other things Apple could come up with to make it even more useful.

The patent also cites a distinct texture on the rotatable dial which would offer accessability implications for those with impared vision. 

Apple isn't content to let its device be limited to iPhone, either. The patent hints at using it with iPads, MacBooks, camera tripods and even a car dashboard. 

It's important to note that this is a patent, which means it's just an idea Apple wants to seize control over. There's a chance this product never comes to market. There's also a chance it's almost ready and it comes out soon. There's really no way to tell how far along in the process it is. Either way, it's piqued my interest and I definitely want a customizable dial on the back of my smartphone as soon as possible.

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Dave LeClair
Senior News Editor

Dave LeClair is the Senior News Editor for Tom's Guide, keeping his finger on the pulse of all things technology. He loves taking the complicated happenings in the tech world and explaining why they matter. Whether Apple is announcing the next big thing in the mobile space or a small startup advancing generative AI, Dave will apply his experience to help you figure out what's happening and why it's relevant to your life.