iPhone owners who want to take better pictures with their phones may be interested in a new patent filing.
Published Tuesday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, an Apple patent called "Magnetic add-on lenses with alignment ridge" describes how a camera lens would be attached to the iPhone and aligned with its camera.
An entire camera module would come with magnets to lock securely onto the iPhone at various points. The module would align with the iPhone's camera, allowing it to extend the lens and tap into the phone's on-board optics and sensors. A voice coil motor would support the moveable parts of the external lens, allowing it to zoom, autofocus, and resist shaking.
A patent application granted to Apple on Tuesday describes a method of using removable lenses with the iPhone. Known as "Back panel for a portable electronic device with different camera lens options," the patent discusses the use of an image sensor and lens outfitted directly into a smartphone via a removable panel. Users would be able to swap out one lens for another.
Several manufacturers already make camera lenses and similar accessories that adhere to the iPhone. Assuming they ever become a reality, Apple's inventions could further expand the iPhone's picture-taking abilities.