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Apple files for world patent on customizable iPhone interface

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Apple has applied for a patent with the World Intellectual Property Organization covering a touchscreen interface that lets users reshuffle and reposition icons using nothing more than their fingers.

Published just last week, the WIPO patent for a "Portable Electronic Device with Interface Reconfiguration Mode" was submitted in late December 2006, just days before Apple chief Steve Jobs was set to take the stage at Macworld and unveil his company's first cellphone. The patent echoes a similar US-only filing made in December 2005 but would apply to dozens of countries across Africa, Asia, and Europe.

The patent appears to take a page from Jobs' keynote speech in January, pointing out the inherent need for a flexible touchscreen interface. Since the keys and screen on traditional cell phones are fixed in place, the interface can rarely change to accommodate new features; developers often have to add physical buttons or overload existing buttons with special features, the patent explains. In return, users often can't change the interface themselves to fit their own expectations, typically forcing them to memorize obscure commands.

Apple's solution would rely heavily -- but not necessarily -- on a touchscreen interface virtually identical to that of the iPhone. By dragging an on-screen icon with a finger or stylus, users could either move icons to a static tray on the screen, replacing an earlier icon, or shift them around in their existing sections. In that latter case, neighboring icons could move aside gracefully to reorder the interface on the fly and make it clear where an icon will land when the user lifts their pointing device.

The method could also use pseudo-physics to simulate a more natural feel, adding "friction" depending on the speed of a tossing motion applied to an icon, or a magnetic effect that would let users use less precise movements to drop an icon into place.



Unlike many Apple patents, existing iPhone owners can already attest to Apple's use of the new WIPO patent for a shipping product: any user who has ever rearranged the lower icons in the handset's iPod interface to speed access to audiobooks or podcasts is mirroring Apple's tray portion of the patent.



But while the patent has already seen partial use in the current interface, the ability to reposition icons within an existing section remains untapped. In the present iPhone control scheme, the 'home' screen would be the only feasible candidate for the patent but is so far unchangeable. If implemented in that area, the technique would allow users to move frequently used buttons such as Google Maps or SMS to more familiar locations in the main display.

Apple has also left the patent open to address other electronic devices, conceivably allowing other non-phone handhelds to share the same software design principles.

The patent filing was first noted by Macintosh news site MacNN.
post #2 of 16
If Apple gets that patent they'll be so rich, especially in the future... or richer i guess. They really have the most innovative ideas compared to any other computer company. I like this site so much. Another cool site to check out is www.themacfan.com
post #3 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by bandgeekmdo View Post

If Apple gets that patent they'll be so rich, especially in the future... or richer i guess. They really have the most innovative ideas compared to any other computer company.

Dragging buttons around and to/from a palette/toolbar of some sorts is ancient news in the computer world.

Somebody has got to stop these stupid user interface and software patents.
post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmjoe View Post

Dragging buttons around and to/from a palette/toolbar of some sorts is ancient news in the computer world.

Somebody has got to stop these stupid user interface and software patents.

I agree. The basic premise of this patent is already done in hundreds (probably thousands) of programs. The only difference is this uses a finger versus the mouse cursor, but that should be taken care of as it is still done via the input device.
post #5 of 16
This at least makes me feel more confident that we're going to have more Widgets to arrange at some point....third party or from Apple. I'm guessing that we might see something similar to Spaces on the iPhone when Leopard arrives too so we can categorize our widgets by type...internet related...games...productivity...here's hoping. The Home screen is begging to be flickable .
Nico
post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmjoe View Post

Dragging buttons around and to/from a palette/toolbar of some sorts is ancient news in the computer world.

Somebody has got to stop these stupid user interface and software patents.

Folks, it doesn't matter if you've seen it a million times on a computer, it's different because it's on a phone... a web browser... etc. Patents are granted to those who can simultaneously be very broad in their description yet narrow in actual application.

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

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post #7 of 16
I think this article is a little misleading about WIPO, which is totally understandable because it's something that only makes sense if you understand the pretzel logic that is patent law.

The short version: WIPO is a patent office that doesn't really grant patents.

Long version: Wipo is all about precedent and application dates Pretty much, they allow inventors to assert legal standing from the day of the WIPO application in the event they choose to apply for a patent in a country that signed on to the WIPO treaty.

Think of it like a bookmark or a line in the sand. This will give Apple legal grounds to contest patents in those other countries by asserting the WIPO patent preceded any other copy-cat applications.

What this patent does not imply, however, is that they will automatically gain legal standing in all PCT countries. Just that they intend to. Possibly.
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by caliminius View Post

I agree. The basic premise of this patent is already done in hundreds (probably thousands) of programs. The only difference is this uses a finger versus the mouse cursor, but that should be taken care of as it is still done via the input device.

Even more: this thing is already patented by the inventors of the touch screen and touch effects. I am amazed the patent was granted to Apple. I see patent conflict arising because of that.
post #9 of 16
This whole software patent business is fishy... This for instance, the most logical way to arrange a screen layout is to drag things around until you're satisfied. How can this be patented? It's like patenting "sorting your books in either way you want them in a book shelf", or to patent "the wheel".
To patent the actual code, and more sophisticated techniques I guess has to be all right... but this one is silly.
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Folks, it doesn't matter if you've seen it a million times on a computer, it's different because it's on a phone... a web browser... etc. Patents are granted to those who can simultaneously be very broad in their description yet narrow in actual application.

ok, but then someone better tell Apple the SE P series phones have been doing it for a good few years already.
post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by palegolas View Post

To patent the actual code, and more sophisticated techniques I guess has to be all right... but this one is silly.

But you don't patent the actual code - that would be way too limiting in scope, and it's what copyright exists for.

You patent the concept behind the code, so that nobody else can use a slightly different mechanism to accomplish the same tangible effect.
post #12 of 16
I predicted this months ago.

*pats self on back for recognizing natural progression of technology*
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I predicted this months ago.

*pats self on back for recognizing natural progression of technology*

Then you probably should have filed for the patent on this idea months ago. Apple would be lined up to pay you loads of money right about now if you had...

Or else, people would be howling at the top of their lungs about how obvious this concept is, how the principle may have been in use for years, and how you had no right to claim ownership of it.

I need to read some more - is the innovation here simply that they're using fingers to represent the dragging motion, as opposed to a mouse?

Or is it something unique about the way in which all of the surrounding objects move out of the way as a result of dragging one of the objects? Or something else I'm not seeing?
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by lfmorrison View Post

But you don't patent the actual code - that would be way too limiting in scope, and it's what copyright exists for.

You patent the concept behind the code, so that nobody else can use a slightly different mechanism to accomplish the same tangible effect.

You can't patent a concept, only the tangible application of that concept. It has to have a "manufacturable" (for lack of a better word) form.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #15 of 16
Wow this flew under the radar didn't it.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #16 of 16
They must have already got the patent as the whole icons reshuffle idea is part of the 1.1.3 update - NATE.
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