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Apple investigating scrollable menus, toolbars for Mac OS X, iOS

post #1 of 27
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Apple has shown interest in a new graphical user interface element that would allow devices running either Mac OS X or iOS to consolidate toolbars and menus and cut down on screen clutter.

The plans were revealed in a patent application filed last week in Europe, under the name "Scrollable Menus and Toolbars." The document describes a system that would allow users to select an area and then scroll through menu items, giving a greater selection than can be displayed on the screen at one time.

The application notes that toolbars and menus for typical commands, such as opening a file or saving a document, "can take up valuable real estate in the graphical user interface."

"For example, a user does not want a floating tool palette that takes up too much of the screen," the document reads. "As more options get added to a tool palette, the tool palette must get larger or the size of the options must get smaller."

Apple's solution claims that it would allow an application to display all of those options on a menu or toolbar without taking up a significant amount of space. Its method would also keep the options on the screen at a "visually recognizable size."



The application describes a toolbar with a list of icons on a screen. Hovering over or touching the space would bring up a new window that would indicate to the user what option they are about to select.



Users could choose other selections by scrolling either left and right or up and down. A number of icons would be displayed on the screen, with the one to be selected highlighted to stand out.



Apple's proposed invention gives a number of methods to display these icons, including scrollable menus that would show the selected icon in the center and half of an icon to either the left or the right. Another proposed method would have the icons scroll in a circular rotation, like on a wheel.



Potential uses for the invention are demonstrated on both a Mac and an iPhone. One example shown would give users the ability to search for text on an iPhone within its Safari browser. In another example, users are given the option to shut down or restart a computer running Mac OS X with a selection window in the top left corner.
post #2 of 27
If I were Apple, I would ensure that my OS GUI is consistent across all applications (especially Apple owned apps) before I would introduce new GUI elements...
post #3 of 27
Is this supposedly going to look like the shiny mini-photo-browser in iPhoto '11?
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post #4 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple has shown interest in a new graphical user interface element that would allow devices running either Mac OS X or iOS to consolidate toolbars and menus and cut down on screen clutter...

This is the third article I've read today on this patent application and not a one of them really explains it very well.

It looks groovy, but what the f*ck is it really? I like to see a good explanation of how this would actually work in practice.
post #5 of 27
Multitouch would obviously be key for this to work. I see this as having potential.
post #6 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

This is the third article I've read today on this patent application and not a one of them really explains it very well.

It looks groovy, but what the f*ck is it really? I like to see a good explanation of how this would actually work in practice.

indeed i didn't understand most of it - but i'll tell you that the feature i hate the most in windows 7 is the default hiding of the menu bar.

a lot of these diagrams remind me of stuff we've seen in websites as designers try to outdo each other. This led to my hating flash for a big reason - every site tried to reinvent the wheel - why should i have to relearn the basics of an interface for just a bunch of links? That's why os gui's have to have consistency and there should be certain conventions respected
post #7 of 27
Scrollable toolbars - sounds a lot like the "Ribbon" - not technically Scrollable, but almost the same functionality.
post #8 of 27
I for one am liking this....I love the 'rubber band' effect on my iPhone when scrolling my contacts. And miss it a lot in OSX's "Stickies" where you have to "click down" to scroll even though I have a MagicTrackPad and Magic Mouse! Uggh!

Seems Apple is trying to integrate the same look and feel of the iPhone/iPad into their laptops and desktops.

Makes sense.

I could see Apple changing the color scheme of OSX to match more that of the iPhone and iPad. And knowing Jobs like I do, the iMac will soon be two sheets of "black glass" half as thick as the current iMac with the antennae in the outside frame!

Black is the new white!

Good for you Apple!

Best
post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by SEOsudo View Post

I love how the mobile products along with the desktops are coming to a logical confluence.

SEosudo...you said in one sentence what took me 10 sentences! (See above.) I agree.

Best
post #10 of 27
Sorry to cut/paste from my MacRumors comment, but I think I wrote it pretty effectively the first time:

This reminds me of the piss poor UI in Windows Phone 7, where you are constantly scrolling blindly through options. It's absolutely NOT "great typography", as many bad designers have told me. It's poor design pure and simple. There's no sense of context. You don't know if the option you're on is going to be the best one or if the best option is 5 icons away.

For example, let's say you are looking for printer settings and the icon you're on says "Peripherals", do you select that or do you scrub to the right 8 times to land on something that MIGHT say "Printer Settings"? With only a couple icons shown at once, there's no way of knowing if you're in the best place or not.

The PS3 has the same sort of bad design, where there are no labels showing besides the icon I'm currently on and some are even off screen. I need to know what my options are, not a label for just the cryptic icon I'm currently on.

Sure it makes sense on screens like on the iPod Nano, but on my 27" iMac, I'd rather just have my options laid out in front of me. On the iPhone I have a grid of icons that I can tap. One touch. On Win7Phone, I'd have to scrub to the right four times, swipe upwards and then touch for the same task. Not to make it about Win7Phone... just pointing out the poor design and hoping Apple doesn't follow suit.
post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave K. View Post

If I were Apple, I would ensure that my OS GUI is consistent across all applications (especially Apple owned apps) before I would introduce new GUI elements...

Quote:
Originally Posted by MisterK View Post

This reminds me of the piss poor UI in Windows Phone 7, where you are constantly scrolling blindly through options.

101% agree! Why does Apple insist on hiding everything? Have they still not learned their lesson from the buttonless iPod shuffle?

Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

I for one am liking this....I love the 'rubber band' effect on my iPhone when scrolling my contacts. And miss it a lot in OSX's "Stickies" where you have to "click down" to scroll even though I have a MagicTrackPad and Magic Mouse! Uggh!

That just means that Stickies needs to be fixed, not that an entirely new interface elements is needed. As another poster said above, Apple should focus on first getting some consistency in what they have now. Rearranging the three buttons on the iTunes window just to save, what, 10 pixels? There are much bigger UI problems in Max OS X that need attention (such as iCal) than saving a few pixels of height on the iTunes window. (But that's typical Apple...get 80% there and then abondon what you are doing and move on to something else.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

Seems Apple is trying to integrate the same look and feel of the iPhone/iPad into their laptops and desktops.

Makes sense.

It actually makes little sense at all. Common basics, sure. But what they are doing to make things fit on an iPhone or an iPad screen are called "compromises." That means they are trading off some usability in order to make things fit on such a small screen. Why would they force the same limitations on a 27" iMac. I have the same argument with some of our system UI designers at work...you can take consistency too far, to the point of actually making the system harder to work with.

PS: But of course this is just a patent showing a technique Apple is experimenting with. Not that they'll actually use it.
post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by MisterK View Post

Sorry to cut/paste from my MacRumors comment, but I think I wrote it pretty effectively the first time:

This reminds me of the piss poor UI in Windows Phone 7, where you are constantly scrolling blindly through options. It's absolutely NOT "great typography", as many bad designers have told me. It's poor design pure and simple. There's no sense of context. You don't know if the option you're on is going to be the best one or if the best option is 5 icons away.

For example, let's say you are looking for printer settings and the icon you're on says "Peripherals", do you select that or do you scrub to the right 8 times to land on something that MIGHT say "Printer Settings"? With only a couple icons shown at once, there's no way of knowing if you're in the best place or not.

The PS3 has the same sort of bad design, where there are no labels showing besides the icon I'm currently on and some are even off screen. I need to know what my options are, not a label for just the cryptic icon I'm currently on.

Sure it makes sense on screens like on the iPod Nano, but on my 27" iMac, I'd rather just have my options laid out in front of me. On the iPhone I have a grid of icons that I can tap. One touch. On Win7Phone, I'd have to scrub to the right four times, swipe upwards and then touch for the same task. Not to make it about Win7Phone... just pointing out the poor design and hoping Apple doesn't follow suit.

I agree. Scrolling menus is poor design from a usability standpoint and I'd be very surprised if Apple went down that road. I'd rather a single click or tap invoked an overlay screen with options. Hierarchical if need be.
Scrolling header menus could work if they only gave very general choices from which further options were laid out but you are adding a level of complexity that would alienate many users.
Still, to find the optimum solution you've gotta explore freely.
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

I agree. Scrolling menus is poor design from a usability standpoint and I'd be very surprised if Apple went down that road. I'd rather a single click or tap invoked an overlay screen with options. Hierarchical if need be.
Scrolling header menus could work if they only gave very general choices from which further options were laid out but you are adding a level of complexity that would alienate many users.
Still, to find the optimum solution you've gotta explore freely.

I see where you're going with this and I like this option better. I had that option back in the 90's with the Amiga running Workbench 3.1 which included the MUI (Magic User Interface) system.

On older versions of Workbench you had to move the mouse to the top of the screen then right click to bring up the menu. The menu was hidden until you did though. With MUI you only had to right mouse click anywhere to bring the main menu up. It worked really well.
post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

I agree. Scrolling menus is poor design from a usability standpoint and I'd be very surprised if Apple went down that road. I'd rather a single click or tap invoked an overlay screen with options. Hierarchical if need be.

Not so different from context menus which are present on every OS?
post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by djsherly View Post

Not so different from context menus which are present on every OS?

No, much the same, in fact. Except in the case of an iphone a little different implementation. I'd rather see a single menu button which opens up a full or partial overlay screen with options. This could /should /would be contextual. So yeah, exactly the same, just different. a fixed point contextual menu.
post #16 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by MisterK View Post

Sorry to cut/paste from my MacRumors comment, but I think I wrote it pretty effectively the first time:

This reminds me of the piss poor UI in Windows Phone 7, where you are constantly scrolling blindly through options. It's absolutely NOT "great typography", as many bad designers have told me. It's poor design pure and simple. There's no sense of context. You don't know if the option you're on is going to be the best one or if the best option is 5 icons away.

For example, let's say you are looking for printer settings and the icon you're on says "Peripherals", do you select that or do you scrub to the right 8 times to land on something that MIGHT say "Printer Settings"? With only a couple icons shown at once, there's no way of knowing if you're in the best place or not.

The PS3 has the same sort of bad design, where there are no labels showing besides the icon I'm currently on and some are even off screen. I need to know what my options are, not a label for just the cryptic icon I'm currently on.

Sure it makes sense on screens like on the iPod Nano, but on my 27" iMac, I'd rather just have my options laid out in front of me. On the iPhone I have a grid of icons that I can tap. One touch. On Win7Phone, I'd have to scrub to the right four times, swipe upwards and then touch for the same task. Not to make it about Win7Phone... just pointing out the poor design and hoping Apple doesn't follow suit.

Maybe Apple knows it's a lousy UI design, but they want to lock it up in case someone else wants to use it.

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post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by SEOsudo View Post

I love how the mobile products along with the desktops are coming to a logical confluence.

I read another article on this same 'new patent' subject. At minimum, we know that confluence of screen elements that 'makes sense' to Apple is coming to Lion. There will be both excitement and anguish, I am sure, among Mac users whatever is implemented. I sort of like this scrollable menu concept, but it is all in the execution details. Apple is willing to pioneer, for better or worse.

I would like to add that, for those of us who know how the use the alternative interface called VoiceOver, Apple software development can be expected to upgrade this tool to correspond to these changes in Lion, just as VoiceOver can now used in either the current Mac OS and the current iOS.
There will be excitement and anguish in that community as well, I am sure.

Finally, the new Lion confluences the user will see and experience in the upcoming Lion, requires amazing software technology and skill. I think only a portion of the user community at large will even be aware of the tremendous effort, in both programmer skill and time, to implement this confluence in a workable and relatively bug-free state.

Nullis in verba -- "on the word of no one"

 

 

 

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Nullis in verba -- "on the word of no one"

 

 

 

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post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Maybe Apple knows it's a lousy UI design, but they want to lock it up in case someone else wants to use it.

My thoughts exactly. Get a patent on it so that others like Windows 8 and Android can't use it in their knockoffs, then sue them if they go ahead and do it anyway.
post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by MisterK View Post

It's absolutely NOT "great typography", as many bad designers have told me. It's poor design pure and simple. There's no sense of context. You don't know if the option you're on is going to be the best one or if the best option is 5 icons away.

For example, let's say you are looking for printer settings and the icon you're on says "Peripherals", do you select that or do you scrub to the right 8 times to land on something that MIGHT say "Printer Settings"? With only a couple icons shown at once, there's no way of knowing if you're in the best place or not.

One thing I notice in the filings is the removal of the menu bar. That's huge as it's the first time that's been done in 26 years.

A complaint that's always been put against the Mac UI and one that Mac users felt was a plus was the persistent menu bar.

Concerning touch though, you can see that the menu bar item is in fact one of the most difficult parts of the UI to use. All of the proposed solutions work best for touch devices - especially with fullscreen apps. The scroller is what you get on the iPhone when you have an HTML select on a web page.

It has the problem you describe of not knowing what menu options are there but it can perhaps be designed in a way that you can.

One of the important principals of the menu bar is that when it's fixed at the top, your mouse only has to move in one axis to hit the menu you want. But say there's a proposed menu system that creates a menu wherever your mouse is, you don't even need to move the mouse at all so it's faster.

One thing that I find uses up a lot of space are nested menus so what could happen is that when you have your mouse in some position, you would enable the menu and your mouse changes state. So when the menu is active, your mouse no longer moves the pointer but scrolls the menu and the centre item remains highlighted.

So moving the mouse up moves up the menu. If you move left to right far enough, you cancel the menu. When you click on a submenu, the submenu would replace the current one and the highlight remains in the same place. To go back up you can move slightly less to the left or there can be a button to go back. The other menu items don't have to be hidden - they can show as many items that fit around the current cursor position.

It's actually faster than the current menu as you aren't having to move the mouse at all to activate it. It would change the main menu into a contextual menu.

Problems that would arise concern display of the time and wifi etc. These can go in the Dock including the Apple logo but these may still be hidden by default.

Whatever implementation they choose, they will test it thoroughly as they have with the iPhone and make sure that it's efficient.
post #20 of 27
Sony uses this type of interface on the PS3, and other products. It's called XMB (cross media bar).
post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave K. View Post

If I were Apple, I would ensure that my OS GUI is consistent across all applications (especially Apple owned apps) before I would introduce new GUI elements...

You mean fix all the current glaring UI issues and standardize on one interface instead of throwing yet more into the dozen different types already present? Never happen. This is Apple we're talking about.
post #22 of 27
How about getting rid of the sidebar that shows up in every Finder window? Hiding absolutely everything with the button at the top right is not a solution and many of us need to work with multiple open windows. How many copies of the sidebar does a person need on the screen at any given time?
post #23 of 27
.

Like many others here posting on this, no idea how it works in the Real World

But - that really doesn't matter much at this time

.

THE Idea is this:

Apple is constantly trying to invent new, and better, ways of doing things

(Microsoft, Sony, et al ... expect THEM to be on cutting edge of what really "works" ? )

We're now moving into next phase of "computing/GUI" with the hybrids between "touch" and "mouse"

Let's see what Steve, Jony, and Crew come up with in The Journey

If they're true to form - all will be fine, in time

post #24 of 27
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post #25 of 27
call me crazy, but if i just make a current mac osx window really small a long line, then make it an icon view, clean them up so they are in a row - then, make the window a tiny box - is this not the same as this?

i think companies patent all kinds of UI ideas, whether they are good or not, just to have a patent. apple UI design is generally decent, so hopefully they don't go crazy trying to make osx too much like iOS. we shall see.
post #26 of 27
As Marvin notes, one of the more important things shown in this patent application may be the lack of a menu bar. Replacing the menu bar with menus and control elements you call up in other ways, wherever the pointer is located, might also be seen as another step in merging OS X with TV screens--"normal" TVs don't have menu bars always onscreen since it would distract from what you're viewing, and so any merging of computer OSs with TVs will have to allow for menu access on screens without a persistent menu bar. While this could be accomplished more simply, by just including an option (like the OS X Dock's current auto-hide option) to hide the menu bar except when the mouse pointer is moved to the top of the screen, Apple seems to be taking the opportunity to experiment with other ways of accessing menus. If nothing else, Apple may have some pet idea that a menu bar at the top of the screen, even if it's auto-hiding, is too "computer-like" for TVs.
post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

This is the third article I've read today on this patent application and not a one of them really explains it very well.

It looks groovy, but what the f*ck is it really? I like to see a good explanation of how this would actually work in practice.

Isn't the "multitasking" bar in iOS a perfect example of this patent?
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