A new patent granted to Apple hints that the company is working on better speakers with higher-audio quality output, which could be a part of future versions of the iPhone, MacBooks, iPads, etc.
The patent, which can be read here, talks about an audio element, which can be mounted on a structure with an opening to allow sound to pass through.
The patent read, “In one embodiment, an audio element can be mounted on or coupled to an intermediate structure (e.g., a flexible electrical substrate) having an opening therein to allow audio sound to pass there through. In another embodiment, an audio chamber can be formed to assist in directing audio sound between an opening an outer housing and a flexible electronic substrate to which the audio element is mounted or coupled thereto. In still another embodiment, a barrier, such as a mesh barrier, can be provided in an opening of an outer housing so that undesired foreign substances can be blocked from further entry into the opening in the outer housing.”
The reason why Apple is looking at such an audio element is also listed in the patent. It reads that the size of portable electronic devices poses constraints in ensuring “high-quality audio sound output and pickup without hindering the ability to make portable electronic devices smaller and thinner.”
The patent adds that “there is a need for improved approaches to provide high-quality audio sound output and/or pickup from portable electronic devices as they get smaller and thinner.”
According to 9to5Mac, which notes that the language of the patent doesn’t really make it clear how the new speakers will work, it looks like Apple is proposing a sound chamber to allow a greater volume of air to be pushed and increase the sound output that is possible. The Apple patent also describes a similar technique for the microphone.
Given that the patent was granted on January 12, 2016, it’s not clear when and if we’ll see the patent design get implemented into iPhones or other Apple devices.
With the new iPhone 7, the most talked about design change right now is Apple putting an end to the 3.5 mm headphone jack and instead opting for Bluetooth or Lightning port powered headphones. More on Apple rumours here.