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Virtual scroll wheel patent shows alternate iOS input method

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
A patent granted to Apple on Tuesday describes the implementation of a "virtual scroll wheel" on a touchscreen device, possibly lending credence to years-old rumors that the company was looking to replace the iPod's physical touch wheel with a virtual on-screen representation.

Filed in 2005, Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,239,784 for "Mode-based graphical user interfaces for touch sensitive input devices" is a continuation-in-part to a separate graphical user interface patent applications for gesture support on touchscreen devices such as zooming and on-screen object manipulation.

In the '784 patent, a virtual scroll wheel appears on the screen of a device, such as an iPod touch, when a user first makes contact with the touch-sensitive display. The virtual scroll wheel can then be manipulated by converting "swirling motion touch events" which in turn cycles through GUI elements like an iPod's playlist in much the same way the legacy physical touch wheel operated.

The patent covers both a transparent scroll wheel, complete with virtual select button at its center, and a means to dynamically move content away from the area of operation for easier user viewing. For example, a user would touch a device's screen and the virtual wheel would appear under the user's finger, shifting any GUI elements away. The patent also allows for the wheel to be resized and manipulated with one or more fingers like a "knob."

Scroll Wheel
Illustration showing swirling motion input. | Source: USPTO


From the '784 patent summary:

The invention pertains to gestures and methods of implementing gestures with touch sensitive devices. Examples of touch sensitive devices include touch screens and touch pads. The invention also pertains to user interfaces and methods of implementing user interfaces with displays.

The invention can be implemented in numerous ways, including as a method, graphical user interface, computing device, or a computer readable medium.


Previous Apple patent filings sparked speculation that a virtual scroll wheel would be implemented in the then-unreleased iPod touch, though when the device debuted in 2007 it featured a linear scrolling UI devoid of "swirling motion" input.

Virtual Scroll Wheel
Illustration of "knob" type scroll wheel interaction. | Source: USPTO


While the original iPod touch's interface did away with the scroll wheel, it ushered in the multitouch iOS platform seen on all iDevices up to the iPhone 4S and third-generation iPad. Apple Senior Vice President of Industrial Design Jonathan Ive is credited as one of the patent's inventors.
post #2 of 11

Just looks like the iOS Accessibility interface.  

 

See "the rotor" here: http://www.apple.com/accessibility/iphone/vision.html

post #3 of 11

A virtual ipod scroll wheel would have been a real pain in the ass to use. Make nice circles with your finger, with zero tactile feedback. Apple definitely made the right decision here by not using this.

post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by russellgreenwood View Post

Just looks like the iOS Accessibility interface.  

 

See "the rotor" here: http://www.apple.com/accessibility/iphone/vision.html

Standby in a few weeks for the Samsung "knock-off Nigel" version...

post #5 of 11
Now I'm assuming here the majority of people have the music app as one of the top 5 most used apps on their device. If not, disregard my rant...this might be minor trolling but i think it's relevant to the patent.

I love apple products, same as the next person on this forum. However, I'm getting really pissed with the company trying to shove multitouch down our throats on every device. Most people who own an iDevice have probably experienced how gosh darn awful the experience is of operating the music app while walk to work, driving, working out or just about any time you can't physically look down at the device.

On the touch/phone, for quick navigation, double-click and tap. Sounds easy enough unless it's in or pocket or you're driving and can't look down...because you're driving. Not to mention pray like heck the app doesn't momentarily lock up...since the music app is by far the most unresponsive app of the lot. Don't even get me started on more complex navigation.

They have taken the simplicity and minimal usability of the iPod and turned it into a mess. Its almost deliberately inefficient. If I could tether the iPod shuffle as a dedicated navigation accessory for the music app I would.
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by antkm1 View Post

Now I'm assuming here the majority of people have the music app as one of the top 5 most used apps on their device. If not, disregard my rant...this might be minor trolling but i think it's relevant to the patent.
I love apple products, same as the next person on this forum. However, I'm getting really pissed with the company trying to shove multitouch down our throats on every device. Most people who own an iDevice have probably experienced how gosh darn awful the experience is of operating the music app while walk to work, driving, working out or just about any time you can't physically look down at the device.
On the touch/phone, for quick navigation, double-click and tap. Sounds easy enough unless it's in or pocket or you're driving and can't look down...because you're driving. Not to mention pray like heck the app doesn't momentarily lock up...since the music app is by far the most unresponsive app of the lot. Don't even get me started on more complex navigation.
They have taken the simplicity and minimal usability of the iPod and turned it into a mess. Its almost deliberately inefficient. If I could tether the iPod shuffle as a dedicated navigation accessory for the music app I would.

 

Don't read too much into it.  Sometimes patents are designed to protect ideas and nothing more.  Apple probably has hundreds of patents that will never see the light of day...other than in potential lawsuits.   It is common practice for all tech companies.

post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by antkm1 View Post
Not to mention pray like heck the app doesn't momentarily lock up...since the music app is by far the most unresponsive app of the lot.

 

Have you tried the Podcasts app?  I think it's far worse than the Music app.

Feels like it was designed for "the real 4G" (the successor to LTE some day).

Terribly, terribly slow with 3G or EDGE.

Sent from my iPhone Simulator

Reply

Sent from my iPhone Simulator

Reply
post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by antkm1 View Post

Now I'm assuming here the majority of people have the music app as one of the top 5 most used apps on their device. If not, disregard my rant...this might be minor trolling but i think it's relevant to the patent.
I love apple products, same as the next person on this forum. However, I'm getting really pissed with the company trying to shove multitouch down our throats on every device. Most people who own an iDevice have probably experienced how gosh darn awful the experience is of operating the music app while walk to work, driving, working out or just about any time you can't physically look down at the device.
On the touch/phone, for quick navigation, double-click and tap. Sounds easy enough unless it's in or pocket or you're driving and can't look down...because you're driving. Not to mention pray like heck the app doesn't momentarily lock up...since the music app is by far the most unresponsive app of the lot. Don't even get me started on more complex navigation.
They have taken the simplicity and minimal usability of the iPod and turned it into a mess. Its almost deliberately inefficient. If I could tether the iPod shuffle as a dedicated navigation accessory for the music app I would.

 

 

Obviously a non-touchscreen device, by its very simplicity, has certain benefits in some situations. For instance, you can use it without looking at it. A touchscreen device is of course more powerful and flexible.

 

To get the best of BOTH worlds you have two good options:

 

1. Get a third-party music player app. There are gesture and tilt-based ones. Flux Tunes and Moosic come to mind.

 

2. Get physical controls for your iPhone music playback. There are many to choose from, many of which are perfect for a car. I got a car charger with controls built in, myself.

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post


Obviously a non-touchscreen device, by its very simplicity, has certain benefits in some situations. For instance, you can use it without looking at it. A touchscreen device is of course more powerful and flexible.

To get the best of BOTH worlds you have two good options:

1. Get a third-party music player app. There are gesture and tilt-based ones. Flux Tunes and Moosic come to mind.

2. Get physical controls for your iPhone music playback. There are many to choose from, many of which are perfect for a car. I got a car charger with controls built in, myself.

Obviously...tell me something i already hadnt thought of. And you missed the most obvious solution...
stock up on the remaining click-wheel iPods before they get the axe. Which I'm starting to think is the best idea.
post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post

Have you tried the Podcasts app?  I think it's far worse than the Music app.
Feels like it was designed for "the real 4G" (the successor to LTE some day).
Terribly, terribly slow with 3G or EDGE.
Oh, I've let myself be read on the AppStore comments section. It got a lot more responsive after a delete and fresh install...post current update. Still doesn't make up for its lack of basic features.

(agree)
post #11 of 11
That's what Siri is for... I've actually had that virtual wheel feature on my iPod Touch 1st gen back in o'7, I jailbroke it, put live wallpapers, Folders before everyone on Android and iOS even knew they existed... It was neat. Felt like an iPod Classic... And I would shake my device to make it change to the Classic... It was like magic... From regular iPod touch Music UI to the classic scrollwheel and traditional Menu's... It was awesome. Today you can install 3D Wallpaper ( Tilt the device to see it move with the sixaxis chip) The tweak is called DeepEnd on Cydia. I'm expecting someone to release a tweak that allows the camera itself to be the wallpaper, but it sounds impossible. It would make the phone feel transparent. And I'm hoping someone reads this... We can make a 360 long horizontal panoramic wallpapers... And use them with the gyroscope (like a compass), and see two worlds with our device. Making Both Vertical and Horizontal Views would be legendary... Probably won't happen though. (Sigh)
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