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Apple developing always-on iPhone status indicators

post #1 of 42
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Apple has conceptualized a means of displaying icon-like status indicators on the iPhone's displays even when the handset is locked and the backlight turned off, a new company filing shows.

The Cupertino-based electronics maker notes that a traditional way of conserving energy on handheld devices is to turn off a display when the user does not need or want to view media. However, this approach may make it difficult or impossible for a user to determine the status of the device or identify any pending notifications without first having to turn the unit on.

To address the problem, Apple proposes the implementation of a dual backlight system, where a secondary, low-power backlight system would be positioned behind the primary backlight system. The always-on light provided by the secondary backlight system could then be projected through one or more transparent or semitransparent regions of the primary backlight system to reach the display even when the primary backlight is turned off.

"The primary backlight system may block light from the secondary backlight system except for those one or more regions," the filing explains. "Thus, the size and shape of the status indicator may be set by sizing and shaping the transparent or semitransparent regions of the primary backlight system. In addition to setting the size and shape of the icon, the color of the icon may also be set by adjusting the color of the light provided by the secondary backlight system."

By this method, Apple could provide iPhone users with any number of colored status icons to represent anything from a new text message or email, to missed calls or a low battery warning. The light source within the secondary backlight system could also be turned on and off to create a blinking effect, or the intensity of the light may be varied through pulse-width-modulation.



Therefor, users would be able to determine whether they missed a call or communication without touching their iPhone, which may be positioned on a table or other surface that's within sight but not necessarily in a user's hand. Users would also be able to simply glance at their iPhone when out and about to check its status without having to switch on the LCD display.

Apple explains that in some implementations, multiple status indicator icons may be displayed at substantially the same location on the display. To vary the shape or size of each indicator, the shape and size of the color filters may be varied rather than the shape and size of the transparent or semitransparent regions of the primary backlight system. This could be accomplished by taking color filters of different shapes and with different properties and superimposing them on each other. Thus, the shape of an icon on the display would depend on the color of light provided by the secondary backlight -- a technique that may also be used for icons that are displayed side-by-side.



In terms of blinking or pulsating icons, each status indicator provided by the iPhone, whether located at different locations on a display or at substantially the same location, may be associated with light having particular properties.

"For example, each indicator may have a particular color, blinking speed, or light intensity. These properties may be programmed into the electronic device by the user, or may be hard-coded or hard-wired into the system," Apple said. "Thus, when the secondary backlight is turned on, the properties of the light provided by the secondary backlight system may depend on the status of the device. Also, if the status of the electronic device changes while the secondary backlight is on, the properties of the light provided by the secondary backlight system may change to reflect the new status."

The 24-page filing, published for the first time this week by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, is credited to Apple engineer Michael Rosenblatt.
post #2 of 42
Yayyy, first reply and nice idea. Can't wait to see when it happens
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post #3 of 42
An idea so simple yet not thought of before. Typical of Apple ingenuity.

However, a patent? C'mon!
post #4 of 42
Most phone have some type of indicator led that shows when a call or a messages is missed. Am I missing something?
post #5 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimDreamworx View Post

An idea so simple yet not thought of before. Typical of Apple ingenuity.

However, a patent? C'mon!



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post #6 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackSummerNight View Post

Most phone have some type of indicator led that shows when a call or a messages is missed. Am I missing something?

The dim one would have all the icons on it so they would display behind whatever you were doing on the main screen.

So the dim one would remain on so that the phone could get your attention. Much like Moto's phones where it beeps until you acknowledge it. However, this would be much less annoying and also use minimal battery to display.
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post #7 of 42
Um... why all the worry about how to make things transparent? Why not just put it up in the same place where the light sensor is? No need to put it behind the LCD.
post #8 of 42
Interesting idea but I wonder how they're going to prevent screen burn?

I know Nokia phones already do something similar to this but the indicator screen is B&W and the indicator moves around the screen to prevent screen burn.
post #9 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameronj View Post

Um... why all the worry about how to make things transparent? Why not just put it up in the same place where the light sensor is? No need to put it behind the LCD.

This is a robust and informative solution, not just a dumb indicator light.
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post #10 of 42
Isn't this inherantly a possibility with LED backlights?
post #11 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimDreamworx View Post

An idea so simple yet not thought of before. Typical of Apple ingenuity.

However, a patent? C'mon!

what is that for. that they want to patent it or because it took a patent for us to find out that they are thinking about it.

of course they would want to patent it. all companies will do this, not just apple. to protect the ability to do something. the last thing Apple wants is to start this project and then have it patented by the folks behind the Android and suddenly they can't add it without licensing etc.

And while the idea might seem simple, executing it properly may not be which is why it is just happening now. and if it is optional, I say great, go for it. but I for one don't want my phone to glow with alerts all the time. if I am expecting a message, sure I might turn it on. but most of the time I'm happy to miss a call for a bit. my world isn't about my phone. if it is an emergency they will call back or try another line. two quick vibrates in my pocket and I'll pull it out to see who it is.
post #12 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

This is a robust and informative solution, not just a dumb indicator light.

Robust and innovative?

Why can't you put a robust and innovative solution to the right or lefto f the home button, or to the right of the ear hole, instead of behind the screen?
post #13 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by maleficent View Post

The dim one would have all the icons on it so they would display behind whatever you were doing on the main screen.



actually if I read the concept correctly they are talking about only when the phone is sleeping. when the phone is active, you would see nothing other than the typical alerts.

if this is something that is going to be behind everything I do then I better be able to turn it off. I don't want some stupid little ghost icons floating around while I'm trying to email etc. I will know that I missed a call cause that will cut in and make me decline it anyway.
post #14 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh View Post

Isn't this inherantly a possibility with LED backlights?

the idea is to make them less bright and thus not only using less battery but also likely to prevent any chance of burn in. or at least lessen it.
post #15 of 42
Apple values form over function way too much. Put an LED on the thing like everyone else and be done with it. While they're at it, they should add another two buttons for the phone. The swiping your finger thing got old after the first day.
post #16 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by wilma View Post

Apple values form over function way too much. Put an LED on the thing like everyone else and be done with it. While they're at it, they should add another two buttons for the phone. The swiping your finger thing got old after the first day.

Of course, because we all know that Apple will do what everyone else does. This actually seems like a pretty innovative and useful feature. You will never see these icons while you're working normally on your phone, only when the screen is off. It is much less obtrusive than a blinking light on a Blackberry or timed chirps from a Moto phone. As far as adding more buttons are concerned, I have to say I have never once thought the iPhone needed any more buttons than it has. If you have physical buttons for waking the phone and/or calling, you risk turning your phone on and calling somebody by accident, like my dad does with his blackberry curve at least 2-3 times a day. I have never accidentally called someone or did anything on my phone I didn't want to, and I believe that is a testament to the functionality of the phone. The fact that it is drop-dead gorgeous is simply a perk.
post #17 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by wilma View Post

Apple values form over function way too much. Put an LED on the thing like everyone else and be done with it. While they're at it, they should add another two buttons for the phone. The swiping your finger thing got old after the first day.

A single LED light is not even close to being more functional than a display with text, images and colours displaying various data.
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post #18 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by hittrj01 View Post

As far as adding more buttons are concerned, I have to say I have never once thought the iPhone needed any more buttons than it has.

Perhaps not another button, but added use for a button for voice dialing would be nice. For example, holing down the sleep button or home button for 2 seconds to enable the mic for voice dialing. However, these seem clunky to me. I think a better solution would be to put an additional button under the volume controls on the side.
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post #19 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

A single LED light is not even close to being more functional than a display with text, images and colours displaying various data.

I can see an LED from across the room, not so with the display. And LEDs do come in colors you know.
post #20 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by wilma View Post

I can see an LED from across the room, not so with the display. And LEDs do come in colors you know.

a single light displaying a single colour at a time can't display complex data.
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post #21 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by hittrj01 View Post

As far as adding more buttons are concerned, I have to say I have never once thought the iPhone needed any more buttons than it has. If you have physical buttons for waking the phone and/or calling, you risk turning your phone on and calling somebody by accident, like my dad does with his blackberry curve at least 2-3 times a day. I have never accidentally called someone or did anything on my phone I didn't want to, and I believe that is a testament to the functionality of the phone.

To call the last number you dialed you have to:
1) push the power or home button
2) swipe the screen
3) select the phone app
4) select the phone number (recents or dial pad)
5) make the call call

WAY too many steps for me, when I could just push ONE button if available. If you are in the habit of accidentally hitting the call button, then they should add a way to disable it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hittrj01 View Post

The fact that it is drop-dead gorgeous is simply a perk.

If you like a phone that scratches the second you look at it, yeah I guess it's gorgeous. I'd rather have one that stands up better to everyday use, without the need for a clumsy case.
post #22 of 42
Better yet, when you select the phone app, before a number or a contact has actually been chosen, the proximity sensor indicates you have the phone next to your ear and that you want to say the name/number rather than select if from the list of contacts.

Simple, right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Perhaps not another button, but added use for a button for voice dialing would be nice. For example, holing down the sleep button or home button for 2 seconds to enable the mic for voice dialing. However, these seem clunky to me. I think a better solution would be to put an additional button under the volume controls on the side.
post #23 of 42
They could just go with OLED and not have to worry about any of this. As there is no need for a backlight. It is entirely possible to light each pixel separately.

Would be cool. You're mail icon would light up if you have a message. It could even bounce like on a desktop dock.
You could have full screen animations for alerts. All without having to turn on and off a backlight.
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post #24 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichL View Post

Interesting idea but I wonder how they're going to prevent screen burn?

I know Nokia phones already do something similar to this but the indicator screen is B&W and the indicator moves around the screen to prevent screen burn.

You can't get screen burn on an LCD panel.
post #25 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by wilma View Post

To call the last number you dialed you have to:
1) push the power or home button
2) swipe the screen
3) select the phone app
4) select the phone number (recents or dial pad)
5) make the call call

WAY too many steps for me, when I could just push ONE button if available. If you are in the habit of accidentally hitting the call button, then they should add a way to disable it.

If you like a phone that scratches the second you look at it, yeah I guess it's gorgeous. I'd rather have one that stands up better to everyday use, without the need for a clumsy case.

Wow, sounds like you are just plain lazy. You want someone to make one button for redial, and then diable it so you don't accidently hit it? Do you realize how retarded that is? And how many steps would you need to go through to enable the button so you can push it to redial?

The iPhone doesn't scratch easily. My wife keeps hers in her purse and there isn't a scratch on it.
post #26 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by m2002brian View Post

They could just go with OLED and not have to worry about any of this. As there is no need for a backlight. It is entirely possible to light each pixel separately.

Would be cool. You're mail icon would light up if you have a message. It could even bounce like on a desktop dock.
You could have full screen animations for alerts. All without having to turn on and off a backlight.

They should use a small e-ink display. Virtually no battery power needed.

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post #27 of 42
I don't see this as anything but a great innovative idea. Think of it like the touchscreen scenario for buttons: if you have a great idea for phone alerts, you can't glue on a new LED light after the phones have shipped. Make it all about software, poof! software update and you have a new smart alert for your already purchased phone.

I see this as adding a smart, complex alert system without adding another physical light system to the phone's already crowded motherboard.

How is this bad? Omg, I can't see my 3.5" screen as easily as a blinking LED. I have some cheese for you.
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post #28 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by silverpraxis View Post

I don't see this as anything but a great innovative idea. Think of it like the touchscreen scenario for buttons: if you have a great idea for phone alerts, you can't glue on a new LED light after the phones have shipped. Make it all about software, poof! software update and you have a new smart alert for your already purchased phone.

I see this as adding a smart, complex alert system without adding another physical light system to the phone's already crowded motherboard.

How is this bad? Omg, I can't see my 3.5" screen as easily as a blinking LED. I have some cheese for you.

Reread the article, it's about a HW solution that requires a secondary display.
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post #29 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Reread the article, it's about a HW solution that requires a secondary display.

Perhaps you should as well. It talks about a secondary backlighting system for one display. I don't believe Apple is trying to produce a DS.
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post #30 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimDreamworx View Post

An idea so simple yet not thought of before. Typical of Apple ingenuity.

However, a patent? C'mon!

This is something they should patent. And will easily get if in fact it hasn't been done before.
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post #31 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by wilma View Post

If you like a phone that scratches the second you look at it, yeah I guess it's gorgeous. I'd rather have one that stands up better to everyday use, without the need for a clumsy case.

3g
Original

Quote:
Originally Posted by silverpraxis View Post

Perhaps you should as well. It talks about a secondary backlighting system for one display. I don't believe Apple is trying to produce a DS.

The backlighting would only work on small sections of the screen at a time.
post #32 of 42
.........
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post #33 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackSummerNight View Post

Most phone have some type of indicator led that shows when a call or a messages is missed. Am I missing something?

Yes I don't get this either. On my Sony Ericsson phone, if I've had a missed call or a message, It shows up as black information on the LCD with no backlight. This is the way most of my phones have worked. The clock, missed call logo and SMS envelope will hover around the screen while it's still locked. Are you telling me an extra backlight will be more efficient than just black pixels on an LCD screen? And are you telling me that Apple haven't even considered doing the same screensaver feature other mobile phones have been doing for years?

Yet another reason I'm glad I still haven't bothered with the iPhone. The problem is that while the iPod was a completely new invention and therefore nobody was expecting any particular functionality out of it, people are used to phones working in a specific way. Apple didn't seem to do much research into what people like about their mobile phones and have therefore rather ignorantly done their own thing and missed off some rather important features that most phone users take for granted.

This appears to be yet another one of those features sadly missing.
post #34 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by jowie74 View Post

Yes I don't get this either. On my Sony Ericsson phone, if I've had a missed call or a message, It shows up as black information on the LCD with no backlight. This is the way most of my phones have worked. The clock, missed call logo and SMS envelope will hover around the screen while it's still locked. Are you telling me an extra backlight will be more efficient than just black pixels on an LCD screen? And are you telling me that Apple haven't even considered doing the same screensaver feature other mobile phones have been doing for years?

Yet another reason I'm glad I still haven't bothered with the iPhone. The problem is that while the iPod was a completely new invention and therefore nobody was expecting any particular functionality out of it, people are used to phones working in a specific way. Apple didn't seem to do much research into what people like about their mobile phones and have therefore rather ignorantly done their own thing and missed off some rather important features that most phone users take for granted.

This appears to be yet another one of those features sadly missing.

A 2nd backlight over a small area wouldn't be more efficient than no backight, but it would allow for better usabilty by allowing full featured data that is still fairly easy to read.

PS: The market was new and small, but the iPod wasn't close to being the first PMP on the market.

PPS: My typing is flying with v2.2. WOOT!
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post #35 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

A 2nd backlight over a small area wouldn't be more efficient than no backight, but it would allow for better usabilty by allowing full featured data that is still fairly easy to read.

But why are they going to all this trouble, when all they need to do (in the mean time) is just put some information up on the screen when the backlight is off?
post #36 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by jowie74 View Post

But why are they going to all this trouble, when all they need to do (in the mean time) is just put some information up on the screen when the backlight is off?

The method you suggest isn't very user friendly or that useful which usually means that Apple won't use it. The screen is dark so you can't use colours and need to hold it close to read it. This is certainly a complex Apple solution, but a good one and looks to add significant usability by the additin of a 2nd backlight. Personally, I really hope this makes the cut next summer.

PS: Apple patented the Dock, so this looking like a pretty good patent to me.
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post #37 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

The method you suggest isn't very user friendly or that useful which usually means that Apple won't use it. The screen is dark so you can't use colours and need to hold it close to read it. This is certainly a complex Apple solution, but a good one and looks to add significant usability by the additin of a 2nd backlight. Personally, I really hope this makes the cut next summer.

That's not a decent argument though is it? Apple would rather do nothing than something which most users will find satisfactory? How much extra work would it be for them to put a screensaver clock in the software? Lame.

Quote:
PS: Apple patented the Dock, so this looking like a pretty good patent to me.

It's a patent application, not a completed patent. Apple file hundreds of patents all the time. Just because one of them was good doesn't mean all of them will be that good.
post #38 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by jowie74 View Post

That's not a decent argument though is it? Apple would rather do nothing than something which most users will find satisfactory? How much extra work would it be for them to put a screensaver clock in the software? Lame.

It's not really an argument, it's how Apple usually operates.

Quote:
It's a patent application, not a completed patent. Apple file hundreds of patents all the time. Just because one of them was good doesn't mean all of them will be that good.

That was the point of my post. Why do you think I mocked the patenting of the Dock?
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post #39 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

It's not really an argument, it's how Apple usually operates.
That was the point of my post. Why do you think I mocked the patenting of the Dock?

Sorry I was missing the overall irony of your points
post #40 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

Wow, sounds like you are just plain lazy. You want someone to make one button for redial, and then diable it so you don't accidently hit it? Do you realize how retarded that is? And how many steps would you need to go through to enable the button so you can push it to redial?

Hey fanboy, this is how every other phone on the planet works. It's called the send button.
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