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Apple wins patent for Cover Flow media selection GUI

post #1 of 45
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Apple on Tuesday was granted a patent regarding browsing and selection of digital media on a connected device using the Cover Flow interface first seen in iTunes 7.

The newly-won U.S. Patent No. 8,230,360 for a "User interface for selection from media collection" describes the basic idea of selecting media through Cover Flow, Apple's solution to browsing through and selecting from large collections of digital media by using corresponding images like album covers or movie posters.

The patent's first claim covers a system in which a "connected" device collects multimedia content from one or resources and displays the items in a specified group which can be rearranged visually to accomodate orderly viewing. While it falls short of explaining Apple's 2010 D613,3000 design patent for Cover Flow itself, the media selection property leans heavily on the older innovation and expands on the utility as it applies to selecting content items for purchase, rental and playback. The design patent spawned from Apple's 2006 purchase of the media-browsing GUI originally created by developer Steel Skies.

From Claim 1 of the '360 patent:

[...]wherein the group of content items is capable of having multiple states within the display, wherein the multiple states include a starting state, a middle state, and an ending state, wherein a starting state initially includes a flat content item on the left and one or more tilted content items on the right, wherein a middle state includes one or more tilted content items on the left and on the right, wherein an ending state initially includes one or more tilted content items on the left and a flat content item on the right, and wherein the state of the group of content items changes when a non-selectable content item in the group is selected[...]


Described in supporting claims is the well-known "stacking" or "flow" or content images "wherein content items in a starting state, a middle state, and an ending state overlap as they accumulate."

This GUI action is representative of the Cover Flow mechanism which has made its way into iDevices and most recently the OS X version of Safari.

Cover Flow
Illustration from the '360 patent depicts the Apple TV's iTunes store. | Source: USPTO


The filing's illustrations almost exclusively feature what appears to be the original Apple TV interface while the corresponding literature makes a point to mention the patent covers a number of devices and consumption of media from a variety of sources.

Apple clearly had iterations of the iTunes store in mind with the '360 patent and notes ""A computer-implemented method, comprising: receiving, at a computing device, one or more content items from one or more resources, wherein content items include multimedia content, audio content, video content, image content, and user generated content[...]."

Cover Flow was a hotly-contested invention for Apple as the iPod maker was sued in 2008 for allegedly infringing upon a number of patents relating to the creation of "streams" of documents sorted by time. Apple was initially hit with $625 million in damages owed but ultimately won an appeal reversing the decision in 2011.
post #2 of 45

Cover Flow is possibly the most useless way of presenting anything to chose from.

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post #3 of 45

Apple should file a continuation application and extend it to television graphics, online Flash presentations, and any of the other hundreds of copycat iterations that have been seen for years now.

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post #4 of 45

Great. Yet more years of litigation news. I'd rather just read about the cool stuff.

post #5 of 45

This is a ridiculous patent.

post #6 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by wakefinance View Post

This is a ridiculous patent.

 

It's an awesome patent. Why else would everyone copy the Cover Flow look? Also, Apple bought the company that created this particular look for iTunes in 2006.

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post #7 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

Cover Flow is possibly the most useless way of presenting anything to chose from.

Are you sure about that?  Would you rather scroll through music files by opening up folders on a windows desktop? Cover flow may not be the best, but it certainly is an improvement over drilling down through file folders.

post #8 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arlor View Post

Great. Yet more years of litigation news. I'd rather just read about the cool stuff.

Unfortunately patents are disparaged a lot in the software industry and negative content draw lots of attention to a news forum.  It is kind of like car accidents or shootings; for some odd reason it interests people.

post #9 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arlor View Post

Great. Yet more years of litigation news. I'd rather just read about the cool stuff.

That's nice. You apparently haven't learned that patents are one of the reasons we have such cool stuff. Without the ability to protect R&D investments, why should someone invent anything new?
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post #10 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

Cover Flow is possibly the most useless way of presenting anything to chose from.

I don't mind that it exists but I hate that when my phone in landscape mode there is no other option to control iPod/Music app than then with Cover Flow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ash471 View Post

Are you sure about that?  Would you rather scroll through music files by opening up folders on a windows desktop? Cover flow may not be the best, but it certainly is an improvement over drilling down through file folders.
I don't get your argument. You're comparing it to using an app that was designed specifically for choosing files and folders in a very archaic system. Using only the iTunes app or iPod/Music app in Cover Flow is horrendous. In fact, it's so poor that you can't even do every task from that mode.

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post #11 of 45

go to this link.  I know it has nothing to do with this.  But I find the comments rather stupid.  CNN doesn't really get it.

 

http://money.cnn.com/2012/07/24/technology/apple-earnings/index.htm?hpt=hp_t1

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post #12 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


I don't mind that it exists but I hate that when my phone in landscape mode there is no other option to control iPod/Music app than then with Cover Flow.
I don't get your argument. You're comparing it to using an app that was designed specifically for choosing files and folders in a very archaic system. Using only the iTunes app or iPod/Music app in Cover Flow is horrendous. In fact, it's so poor that you can't even do every task from that mode.

So sell your current phone and buy some other phone if you hate it so much.

post #13 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by tylerk36 View Post

go to this link.  I know it has nothing to do with this.  But I find the comments rather stupid.  CNN doesn't really get it.

http://money.cnn.com/2012/07/24/technology/apple-earnings/index.htm?hpt=hp_t1

Those people are ridiculous. I think I read one reasonable comment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by longfang View Post

So sell your current phone and buy some other phone if you hate it so much.

That makes perfect sense. /s

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post #14 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


I don't mind that it exists but I hate that when my phone in landscape mode there is no other option to control iPod/Music app than then with Cover Flow.
...

 

I hate this so much when I'm trying to play music in my car. I rest the iPhone sideways to watch the road, then swing it up to pick a song and it slowly changes away from Cover Flow. Cover Flow also totally ignores that I've drilled down to a genre, for example. Shows me totally dissimilar music. Thank god for orientation lock.

post #15 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by PotatoLeekSoup View Post

I hate this so much when I'm trying to play music in my car. I rest the iPhone sideways to watch the road, then swing it up to pick a song and it slowly changes away from Cover Flow. Cover Flow also totally ignores that I've drilled down to a genre, for example. Shows me totally dissimilar music. Thank god for orientation lock.

That's where I run into the most trouble, too.

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post #16 of 45

Any patent related to images on a screen are just stupid. Every image on a computer screen or TV is unique. Why not patent every possible combination of colors that can every exist?

 

So somebody decides to post a pretty graphical interface on a screen that looks like images being pulled out of a deck of cards or in a 3D folder. It looks good. The images become links to open whatever information is related to them. Why the hell does that need to be patented? I understand the desire for a company to grab as many ideas as possible to patent just for making profits, but I don't understand how this deserves a patent. I do understand that the fundamental GUI deserves a patent but not clicking movable images that just represent links.

 

I want to patent pixel number 1,200,555 on screens that are 1920 X 1080 when I send a signal to it to turn it greenish blue when I move a mouse or other pointing device over it and click. That click will then open a file on the device.

 

That is just a stupid patent idea. Perhaps the cover flow idea might deserve a copyright but probably not.

 

Should people patent books, not the content, but the design? They have covers and pages attached to a spine and the pages can be turned. Doing that would be stupid. Coverflow as a patented idea of moving images on a screen is just as stupid in my opinion.
 

post #17 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


That's nice. You apparently haven't learned that patents are one of the reasons we have such cool stuff. Without the ability to protect R&D investments, why should someone invent anything new?

 

Wrong. Spend some time to watch this talk http://www.ted.com/talks/johanna_blakley_lessons_from_fashion_s_free_culture.html

post #18 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post

 

Should people patent books, not the content, but the design? They have covers and pages attached to a spine and the pages can be turned. Doing that would be stupid. Coverflow as a patented idea of moving images on a screen is just as stupid in my opinion.

 

Imagine if website design were patented (don't be confused with copyright and trademark) and the patent owner decided to "protect" the IP and sued everyone else.

 

wait.. Google has one http://yro.slashdot.org/story/09/09/03/1223207/Google-Patents-Its-Home-Page

post #19 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by iang1234 View Post

 

Wrong. Spend some time to watch this talk http://www.ted.com/talks/johanna_blakley_lessons_from_fashion_s_free_culture.html

very interesting video.

only thing she didn't mention that id be interested in knowing is, how much R&D goes into fashion compared to the tech world, we saw the stats on money spent & earnings but that doesn't help.
if R&D is very expensive & people can copy the work, there might not be any profit there, or as much as they need.

post #20 of 45
Am I the only one thinking this patent and the one involving Time Machine are NOT Cover Flow!?! Apple doesn't call Time Machine's GUI Cover Flow. It isn't flowing covers and doesn't even look like Cover Flow. The patent the main part of the article is talking about seems to be about the Apple TV interface. Yes AppleInsider is falls VERY short of describing Cover Flow because that's not its intention. Apple clearly had iterations of the iTunes store in mind with the '360 patent and notes ""A computer-implemented method, comprising: receiving, at a computing device, one or more content items from one or more resources, wherein content items include multimedia content, audio content, video content, image content, and user generated content[...]." - Um no this is not iTunes Store-related at all. This is Apple TV and Apple TV only. The variety of sources mentioned is the fact that an Apple TV can pull the resources from various devices including AirPlay and users photos on a Mac on the same network. Since AppleInsider took on new writers there's been some bum articles.
post #21 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

Cover Flow is possibly the most useless way of presenting anything to chose from.

Agreed. it looks flashy, but of no use to me whatsoever.

post #22 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


That's nice. You apparently haven't learned that patents are one of the reasons we have such cool stuff. Without the ability to protect R&D investments, why should someone invent anything new?

For the money. IMHO with or without software patents Apple would still have developed the iPhone and would still have made billions in profit.

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post #23 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

For the money. IMHO with or without software patents Apple would still have developed the iPhone and would still have made billions in profit.

 

Exactly. Considering Apple has made billions even before these silly lawsuits started.

post #24 of 45

Cover flow is very limiting, so is probably your experience with music/audio file management. You probably have just a handful of albums. 

Cover flow is one of the most useless views. (Album Grid in Musicbee is my preference). My audio library has around 900 Albums and more than 20.000 tracks. 

Well, for such a collection (many people have even more) iTunes is useless too.Bad music management, bad tagging options etc.

Thanks god there are some decent pieces, like Musicbee are much better choices. I run VmWare only to use Musicbee.

www.getmusicbee.com

 

P.S.

And on windows I haven't been 'drilling down through file folders' since the 1st version of Winamp. Shame that you haven't experienced it in the 90s.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ash471 View Post

Are you sure about that?  Would you rather scroll through music files by opening up folders on a windows desktop? Cover flow may not be the best, but it certainly is an improvement over drilling down through file folders.

post #25 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

For the money. IMHO with or without software patents Apple would still have developed the iPhone and would still have made billions in profit.

Right, spending on R&D billions and then letting other company save on R&D and set the price on their exact same product lower. /s

post #26 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by ash471 View Post

Are you sure about that?  Would you rather scroll through music files by opening up folders on a windows desktop? Cover flow may not be the best, but it certainly is an improvement over drilling down through file folders.

 

 

What drilling down?

 

music/artist/album

post #27 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by PotatoLeekSoup View Post

 

I hate this so much when I'm trying to play music in my car. I rest the iPhone sideways to watch the road, then swing it up to pick a song and it slowly changes away from Cover Flow. Cover Flow also totally ignores that I've drilled down to a genre, for example. Shows me totally dissimilar music. Thank god for orientation lock.

 

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post #28 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by PotatoLeekSoup View Post

I hate this so much when I'm trying to play music in my car. I rest the iPhone sideways to watch the road, then swing it up to pick a song and it slowly changes away from Cover Flow. Cover Flow also totally ignores that I've drilled down to a genre, for example. Shows me totally dissimilar music. Thank god for orientation lock.

Stop playing with your iPhone while you're driving. If you want to kill yourself, there are ways to do it without taking out innocent people at the same time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by iang1234 View Post

Wrong. Spend some time to watch this talk http://www.ted.com/talks/johanna_blakley_lessons_from_fashion_s_free_culture.html

So? Entirely different industry with different dynamics. Furthermore, as someone else pointed out, there's almost no investment in 'innovation'.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

For the money. IMHO with or without software patents Apple would still have developed the iPhone and would still have made billions in profit.

Maybe, maybe not. I'd love to see your evidence for that.

Furthermore, it assumes that Apple is the whole world. There are also millions of smaller inventors who would never see a penny for their inventions if everyone could freely copy. It also assumes that Apple would still make billions in profit. If the competition could make even more exact copies of Apple's products because of lack of IP protection, what makes you so certain that Apple would still sell as many phones and maintain its current margins?
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post #29 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by wakefinance View Post

This is a ridiculous patent.

 

Why? Why on earth should you care?

post #30 of 45

Watch your back Samsung, Microsoft ain't gonna sue you for this window, but Apple will, sooon...., sheesh....

post #31 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcrs View Post
Watch your back Samsung, Microsoft ain't gonna sue you for this window, but Apple will, sooon…., sheesh….

 

I wish that link had pictures.

 

Or any relevance to the article. I suppose you've also not seen the window, as you seem to be ignoring how stolen the UI designs for that thing are.

post #32 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

I wish that link had pictures.

 

Or any relevance to the article. I suppose you've also not seen the window, as you seem to be ignoring how stolen the UI designs for that thing are.

Yup. The link was basically web spam. As I've never heard of it, I Googled and got this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTVPVobDrms

There are some cool and innovative aspects to it, as well as the usual (for Samsung) wholly copied UI elements.

Interesting idea to use a kitchen window as a display surface (addresses the space problem.) But of course it is mostly BS as it also creates many problems. Most kitchens have the window over the sink which is a less than optimal location for a display in a kitchen. Bad place for recipe display, bad place to interact, little privacy from neighbors, good Gorilla arm potential.

Anyway, a nice conceptual effort, but probably just a concept that will not see the light of day.

 

Personally, I think something like the iPad set on an articulated swing arm might be a nice choice for the kitchen. And you can take it with you when your not in the kitchen.

post #33 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by DESuserIGN View Post
Personally, I think something like the iPad set on an articulated swing arm might be a nice choice for the kitchen. And you can take it with you when your not in the kitchen.

 

Cabinet mount! Just have a depression in the front of one of your cabinet doors in which an iPad can sit! Make it large enough that all models can fit, and just have a frame insert to make it snug. That way if a new shape comes out, people can just buy a new insert from you to install in the depression. Pop the iPad in and out.

 

I figure the iPad is only going to get bigger than right now, so if one ever gets large enough that the depression doesn't work, offer a door swap program.

post #34 of 45

I care because I don't think that an idea like cover flow should be patentable.  Cover flow is a digitized version of a film strip, something that has been around for over 100 years.  This patent (and to a much lesser extent, the slide to unlock patent) is a patent on an animation.  This is not a new and useful invention like a specialized valve or even a unique process used to create a product, and I think that only unique and functional inventions should be patentable.

 

EDIT: this is in reply to Quadra 610.  I'm not sure how to edit in a quote.

post #35 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

So? Entirely different industry with different dynamics. Furthermore, as someone else pointed out, there's almost no investment in 'innovation'.
 

 

Sure.. Now the question is: does software really need as much as protection as in the pharma industry or almost none like in the fashion industry?

post #36 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by iang1234 View Post

 

Wrong. Spend some time to watch this talk http://www.ted.com/talks/johanna_blakley_lessons_from_fashion_s_free_culture.html

 

Folks should also watch this: The Patent Pollution Problem, a talk by Dan Ravisher, Executive Director of the Public Patent Foundation. It's a great talk about why we have so many lousy, ridiculous patents. Folks should also read Bessen & Meurer's analysis of software patents in Patent Failure. Their chapter on software patents is freely available: http://researchoninnovation.org/dopatentswork/dopat9.pdf. 

 

I really am amazed that so many commenters on here defend software patents so vigorously.

post #37 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


That's nice. You apparently haven't learned that patents are one of the reasons we have such cool stuff. Without the ability to protect R&D investments, why should someone invent anything new?

 

Out of curiosity, when Samsung between 2005 and 2010 spent $35 billion on R&D and employed 20k engineers worldwide to work on telecommunication technology that Apple decided to 'steal' for the iPhone and iPad, why do you not sing the same tune?

post #38 of 45
Originally Posted by e_veritas View Post
Out of curiosity, when Samsung between 2005 and 2010 spent $35 billion on R&D and employed 20k engineers worldwide to work on telecommunication technology that Apple decided to 'steal' for the iPhone and iPad, why do you not sing the same tune?

 

Because Apple stole nothing, probably. That'd probably be the reason.

post #39 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Because Apple stole nothing, probably. That'd probably be the reason.

 

Exactly what do you call "using something without paying for it" then? Last time I checked, Apple was the ONLY device manufacturer who has not cross-licensed technology from Samsung related to UMTS.

post #40 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by derekmorr View Post

I really am amazed that so many commenters on here defend software patents so vigorously.

 

I also wonder how many of them are software developers?

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