Apple has been granted a new patent that covers an advanced camera-focusing feature for its touchscreen devices. The new technology could be implemented in the next-generation of Apple’s iPhone.

The ‘multi-point touch focus’ patent, published on Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, describes the ability to choose multiple points of focus by touching those areas on the live preview shown when using an iOS device to capture an image.

The patent’s abstract describes: “A camera includes a lens arranged to focus an image on an image sensor and a touch sensitive visual display for freely selecting two or more regions of interest on a live preview by touch input.”

Apple says that automatic capabilities in current cameras increase the possibility of capturing images that the user wasn’t aiming for. The new functionality would “improve the effectiveness of the automatic capabilities of the image capturing device,” allowing the user to tell the device which characteristics are desired for a particular photograph.

“The image processor may optimise sharpness and/or exposure of the image in at least two of the regions of interest,” describes the patent. “The image processor may track movement of the selected regions of interest.”

Apple’s patent explains that the image processor in an iOS device will choose the best camera settings for the photograph, in particular, the areas chosen as regions of interest.

Apple Insider points out that a dedicated chip is likely to be needed in order to power the new focusing system, but it is unlikely that the dedicated processing unit, new optics and larger imaging sensor will fit into the rumoured thinner next-generation iPhone.

Read more about Apple’s next-generation iPhone here.