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Apple granted patent for iOS app folders and 'jiggle mode' UI

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday awarded Apple a patent for the implementation of app folders in iOS, including the signature icon "jiggle mode" users see when reconfiguring the user interface.

Folders
Source: USPTO


First seen in iOS 4, Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,423,911 for a "Device, method, and graphical user interface for managing folders" describes the key methods used to rearrange app icons in the mobile operating system.

The extensive and detailed document covers app icon manipulation as it relates to creating, rearranging and managing folders within the iOS environment. As noted by the patent background, the invention solves the need for a simple but powerful method of folder modification that requires only a few steps to reach the desired result.

From the patent background:

For example, using a sequence of inputs to create, modify and/or delete folders and content within folders is tedious and creates a significant cognitive burden on a user. In addition, existing methods take longer than necessary, thereby wasting energy.


In the embodiments described, Apple's app management system is outlined, from "jiggle mode" to the folder opening animation. Besides the ability to carry more apps in one folder, not much has changed since the system was introduction in 2010.

Creation
Creating a folder by dragging one icon above another.


As described in the patent, a user selects an on-screen asset, such as an app or folder icon, until it starts to "jiggle." This denotes that the UI is now in reconfiguration mode, which allow for folder creation, rearrangement of icons within folders, and moving folders to different screens, among other operations.

Key to the method is the detection of UI object detection. For example, when a user drags one app icon onto another app icon, thus causing them to overlap, the device creates a folder and displays an animation that denotes a folder is about to be created. In iOS 6, this is represented as a blinking container surrounding the target app, and the "shifting" of a first part of the background away from a second part in a splitting action.

Splitting
Process of adding an app to a folder, with "splitting" animation.


Once a user releases their finger from the screen, the app is added to the selected folder, and a name is automatically generated based on the apps' metadata. The resulting folder displays its contents by showing small representations of the apps within, a feature that can truly be appreciated with Apple's latest Retina display-toting devices.

Interestingly, the patent describes for an alternative method of folder creation that calls for a user to touch a "folder creation region" on the device's screen, which invokes an animation of an empty folder moving out of the region. This system was not used in the final implementation of iOS folders.

Unused
Unused implementation of folder patent with "folder regions."


Moving back to object detection, the patent holds that users can drag an icon to the edges of a touch sensitive display, triggering the device to move to the next page of icons if the asset is held in that position for a predetermined amount of time.

Object recognition also plays a role in how apps behave when being rearranged. For example, a vertical or horizontal threshold can be assigned to icons that, when arranging apps onscreen, will move according to predefined proximity thresholds. This is seen when icons are "pushed" out of the way to make room for an app that is being relocated.

One interesting passage from the patent language describes the thinking behind the "jiggling" apps while in reconfiguration mode:

From the patent description:

For example, as illustrated in FIG. 5B, the selectable user interface objects jiggle as though they are floating on water (e.g., each respective selectable user interface object oscillates about a respective average position of the selectable user interface object on the display).



Jiggle
Jiggle animation and folder creation.


Other embodiments describe how the icons are displayed when in reconfiguration mode. For example, an app can show a removal or deletion badge, currently seen as the "X" located at the top left corner of an app. Transparencies, app design and animations, among other graphical assets, are further detailed in the lengthy property.

Apple's iOS folder patent was first filed for in September 2010, and is related to six other properties describing other facets of the utility. Imran Chaudhri is credited as the patent's inventor.

Folders Design


In a related design patent, also issued to Apple on Tuesday, Chaudhri was credited for the "splitting" graphical animation seen when opening a folder in iOS. The asset illustrated shows the folder renaming text box and multiple instances of apps within, as seen from the Springboard and the dock.
post #2 of 24
Sadly a judge will invalidate all of this. They always do.

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post #3 of 24

Supreme Court Justice Kagan called the Patent Office "patent happy," on Monday and she was right.

post #4 of 24
Getting patents approved will not help Apple boost its sales numbers. These patents are only harming the consumers in the end.
Think what would have happened if Google had made Android closed source OS with a patent.
-Arthur
post #5 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by techahead View Post

Think what would have happened if Google had made Android closed source OS with a patent.

Android wouldn't have taken off, RiM, MS and Nokia may have had some chance to duke it out in the middle, and Apple would have even more market share. Perhaps Samsung's Bada would have been more influential at this point.

Note that Google has closed off access to the source code in the past with Honeycomb.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Supreme Court Justice Kagan called the Patent Office "patent happy," on Monday and she was right.

Well then, I guess the FAA is "airplane happy" and the USPS is "mail happy". Oh, I guess the legal system would be "lawsuit happy" too. It What she said means nothing.

post #7 of 24
Originally Posted by Rogifan 
No the only bullshit thing is Apple rumor sites feel the need to report patent grants like this as if they're news. Which in turn makes the media think Apple is patent happy even though they're far down the list in terms of number of patents granted per year.

 

That depends on your definition of "patent happy".  Being number 21 on the list of most utility patents granted in 2012, with 1,236 patents granted last year, would easily lead folks to conclude that Apple is patent happy.  Given that they were granted "only" 676 patents in 2011, and 563 in 2010, it appears that Apple is really making an effort to get happy.  I don't see any data around the number of patents filed in those years, though, and those numbers would be necessary in understanding their true state of happiness.

 

http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/topo_10.pdf

http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/topo_11.pdf

http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/topo_12.pdf

 

Talk about patent happy: #2 for patents granted in 2012, 2011 and 2010 is Samsung (5,043 granted to "Samsung Electronics" in 2012).  Also - there are multiple occurrences of "Samsung" in the 2012 list: Samsung Electronics, Samsung Electro-Mechanics, Samsung SDI, Samsung Mobile Display, Samsung Display, and Samsung LED.  Are they all under some Samsung "parent company"?

post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by chabig View Post

Well then, I guess the FAA is "airplane happy" and the USPS is "mail happy". Oh, I guess the legal system would be "lawsuit happy" too. It What she said means nothing.

Based on her self-evident comment she's clearly patent happy.


patent
adjective
1 easily recognizable; obvious: she was smiling with patent insincerity.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by chabig View Post

Well then, I guess the FAA is "airplane happy" and the USPS is "mail happy". Oh, I guess the legal system would be "lawsuit happy" too. It What she said means nothing.

I think it can have meaning, in the sense that a patent office gets X applications, and they have to decide which ones to grant and which ones not. "Patent happy" could refer to granting too many, for some definition of too many. What that definition is is debatable, and probably field specific, but it is certainly conceivable that it could be "too lose" or "too tight" at a given point in history.

post #10 of 24
Originally Posted by Rogifan 
No the only bullshit thing is Apple rumor sites feel the need to report patent grants like this as if they're news. Which in turn makes the media think Apple is patent happy even though they're far down the list in terms of number of patents granted per year.

You mean like the media does with lawsuits nd now some folks think only Apple sues over their IP.

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by techahead View Post

Getting patents approved will not help Apple boost its sales numbers. These patents are only harming the consumers in the end.
Think what would have happened if Google had made Android closed source OS with a patent.
-Arthur

And how exactly do you figure that, especially with design patents. Seems to me that legally forcing companies to create differently for non standards items actually helps consumers cause Apple might not have the best solution. UI or tech.

As for Android, if they had closed it perhaps the carriers wouldn't have botched it up with so much tinkering

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #12 of 24
I much prefer the notion of nervous apps afraid they will be relocated to a less desirable position, or worse, be deleted to "jiggle mode."
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Supreme Court Justice Kagan called the Patent Office "patent happy," on Monday and she was right.

 

The USPTO is interesting because it's totally self-funded and profitable.   In fact, Congress siphons off up to $80 million each year from the USPTO's fee revenues into the general fund.  (Some would rather see that money spent on hiring more examiners.)

 

Anything profitable like that is likely to be encouraged to continue being profitable.

 

In the past few years, a couple of things changed.  

 

First, rejections now require more backing documentation from the examiner, so acceptance has become an easier choice than it was before.   This is seen as okay, because issuances can always be challenged.

 

How Patent Examiners are internally evaluated has also changed:

 

  • 10% on how they interact with the customers.
  • 20% on how they handle their workflow (related to quantity).
  • 35% on how much they produce (quantity).
  • 35% on the quality of their output (research and patentability).

The last item... quality... used to be 40% of their performance review until a couple of years ago. 

post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by techahead View Post

Getting patents approved will not help Apple boost its sales numbers. These patents are only harming the consumers in the end.
Think what would have happened if Google had made Android closed source OS with a patent.
-Arthur

well lets see... (The quasi-troll like post aside)... Apple would not have had to pay the lawyers to defend their patents... Samsung would have had to hire their own programmers to develop their own smart-phone interface ... Google would've made money on the Android operating system...
post #15 of 24
Strange wallpaper they put in the patent, very distinct.
I don't think this will be invalidated, it's a pretty original idea and implementation.
post #16 of 24

I just wish they would allow custom icons on folders.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

You mean like the media does with lawsuits nd now some folks think only Apple sues over their IP.
Exactly!
post #18 of 24

I'm just glad that the icons as implemented don't juggle as much as shown in the patent diagram. That would be kind of nauseating!

post #19 of 24
Well it is a good part to the OS but does apple really need a patent for making icons shake, and why would you patent folders, however they are nice for a small device.
post #20 of 24
If Apple is indeed 'patent happy' then it is simply a corollary of them being unhappy with having their ideas copied with gay abandon.
post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

The last item... quality... used to be 40% of their performance review until a couple of years ago. 

And judges (such as Kagan) do have a right to complain about that, because they have to clean up the mess when an unjustified patent is granted.

post #22 of 24
Originally Posted by fsad32 View Post
post

 

So… absolutely nothing to say about the validity of the patent. GOT IT.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

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Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

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post #23 of 24

Its not just some animation or visuals. Its a method. Nobody else came up with a method like this. Its a combination of actions, visuals, animation, and how it all works together that makes this a patent. 

 

This is a perfect example of a good patent.

post #24 of 24

It is total nonsense to suggest that this is a good patent.  First, elements similar to this have been around for many years and there is prior art for elements of this design predating Apple's implementation by many years.  In particular, the concept of a 'screen splitting' action to reveal other information is not at all a new concept.  There is no way that Apple should be able to patent such ideas.

 

What is increasingly happening with Apple is that they simply patent everything they can... which is not at all surprising in the litigious-happy patent trolling world we now live in.  The best defense for patent trolls is to get patents on everything you produce so that it costs them to come against you, because they have to get your patent invalidated.  Most of them are just con artists anyway, and they are much less likely to seek enforcement of some shady, quasi-related patent when they know that you have a more directly related one.

 

Anyway, be that as it may, this state of affairs is a rough spot for all of us who work in this field.  I do  ux / ui for a living, and I had similar designs to the folder effect in use in 2009, well before Apple's patent.  And I got the inspiration from other designers who were doing similar work even earlier.

 

It chaps my rear end that Apple has patents like this, because it impacts what I can do as a designer in the products that I design.

 

IF this were ever to go to court, it would be easy to provide prior art for some elements of Apple's design.  But because of Apple's deep pockets, it is very unlikely that such an event would ever happen.

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