PatentlyApple has uncovered some interesting patent applications from Apple involving new multitouch gestures and smart bezels aimed at making interaction more simple and gestures more memorable.
Apple's patent introduces us to mid-drag gestures, microgestures within gestures, and other gesture modification motions performed contiguously within an overall gesture (i.e., without losing contact with the touch-sensitive input surface during the gesture) to provide intuitive ways to interact with a user interface for varying purposes, such as modifying user interface behaviors, changing optionally displayed items, etc.
Apple states that the use of mid-drag gestures reduces the cognitive burden on a user, thereby creating a more efficient human-machine interface. For battery-operated computing devices, enabling a user to use mid-drag gestures allows for faster and more efficient use of user interfaces, thereby conserving power and increasing the time between battery charges.
Apple did enable some additional multitouch gestures in the beta of iOS 4, but they never made it to the final release. If you are a registered developer they can still be enabled.
The illuminated smart bezel would allow some controls to be moved off the display, so fingers no longer cover areas of the screen. Parts of the bezel could illuminate indicating control regions for starting and stopping media, navigating maps, playing games, etc. While Palm has used a gesture region since the introduction of the Pre and RIM will be using a 1-pixel wide screen border to detect gestures coming off the bezel, and illuminated bezel would offer better orientation for users and the possibility of more dynamic and flexible interactions.
Of course just because Apple patents something is no indication we'll see them in real world software or hardware any time soon, though wouldn't they be interesting in iOS 5 and iPhone 5?