First filed for in 2009, Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,358,281 for a "Device, method, and graphical user interface for management and manipulation of user interface elements" describes the graphical representation of the magnifying loupe iOS users access by touching and holding on a specific area of an iDevice screen. By using the loupe method, in this case as it pertains to certain graphical assets like graphs, the patent saves extra cumbersome steps, like pinch-to-zoom or tap-to-zoom, that may not be needed for a given situation.
According to the property's background, the method was invented as a solution for managing and manipulating GUI elements on small-screened devices like the iPhone. In addition to being beneficial to the user, the culling of unnecessary operations to zoom in on a UI element also helps in saving conserving battery life.
The context-sensitive system requires a number of predefined conditions to be when displaying the magnification loupe as a safeguard against errant pop-ups when such a tool is not needed. For example, the loupe may appear when a user touches on a graph line that is smaller than a predefined size threshold.
Illustration of tap menus.
As described in the patent language, a user first selects a given point on a touchscreen which corresponds to a location on the display of one or more UI elements. From these targeted elements, the system compares the smallest displayed feature with a predetermined size threshold. If the feature is smaller than or equal to the threshold, the loupe displays a magnified image of the element in accordance with a scaled magnification factor. If the features are larger than the predetermined threshold, no magnification is applied.
The patent notes that size thresholds can be measured in length, such as inches or centimeters, or relation to display pixels.
Further, the system also allows for the selection of interface elements and performing an action associated with a multitouch gesture such as tapping the screen.
Apple's '281 patent credits Ian Patrick McCullough and Peter Glen Berger as its inventors.