The patent notes that the portrait or landscape orientation of a mobile device is currently determined using accelerometers or other sensors that determine the position of the device relative to gravity. However, this does not always work perfectly, forcing the user to move the device to get content to display in the proper orientation.
Face ID would be a solution to this issue, with the patent explaining that the position of a user’s face would be detected and automatically switch an iPhone or iPad into portrait or landscape orientation as necessary.
Face ID orientation could greatly reduce the need to enable Portrait Orientation Lock. There are many settings where this could be particularly useful, such as when using an iPhone or iPad on a flat surface or while laying in bed.
“I love using my phone in bed, so my rotation is usually locked so it doesn’t change to landscape on everything,” wrote Reddit user ProTomahawks back in 2018. “It would be good if iOS could see which way you’re viewing your screen from so it [stopped] rotating if you’re laying down. Not a big deal but a good quality of life fix.”
The patent application was filed in September 2018 and published this week. Whether the idea ever comes to fruition remains to be seen.