Future iPhones could include technology which changes what content is displayed on screen by knowing where the user's eyes are looking. The tech appears in a newly-granted patent which Apple applied for back in 2012.
The patent describes a system which would know where on the screen you are looking – or if you aren't looking at the phone at all – and only display certain notifications when you are looking in the right place. Additionally, if a user was holding their phone but looking away when a notification came in, it would stay on the screen until they had seen it. The patent describes the technology as "a computer system with a display and a gaze detection device".
Samsung used a similar system on the Galaxy S4 called Smart Scroll, which scrolled pages up and down when the user looked at the top or bottom of the screen. Previously to this, Google used the front camera to unlock Android phones by taking a photograph of the user's face, preventing strangers from gaining access.
Another use of the system developed by Apple would be to delay text auto correction when the phone knows the user isn't looking at the misspelled word. This way, the user will see what word is being corrected, rather than it happening without them noticing. The eye-tracking system, made possible by using the front camera, would work in partnership with the iPhone's accelerometer to know when it is being held and engaged with.
As with all patents, the usual caveats apply – technology companies like Apple patent all kinds of features and innovations, many of which never make it into products sold to the public. This eye-tracking technology could be another example of this, but at least this time it seems more feasible than other recent Apple patents. One of these explained how firing compressed air and deploying aerodynamic brakes can help dropped iPhones land in a way which doesn't damage the screen