No that's not what their thinking of. More like casting modes. Take the fire focus. Currently it sprays fire in a cone, but if you were to use a casting mode to use the focus on yourself you could gain a fire immunity buff or a lob mode where you throw a fireball that explodes on contact. Different casting modes produce different effects.
This IS how the current upgrade system works. The basic fire focus is a short range cone, but it can become a fireball, or firebeam focus.