Apple investigates iPhone stylus input, contextual user interfaces

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
New patent applications revealed this week show Apple has investigated creating a stylus for use on a touch-sensitive panel like the iPhone, and creating dynamic user interfaces for mobile devices that would adapt to location and use.



Touch panel stylus input explored



When the iPhone was introduced in 2007, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs criticized the stylus, which previously had been the primary input method for touchscreen devices. "We are all born with the ultimate pointing device -- our fingers -- and iPhone uses them to create the most revolutionary user interface since the mouse," he said.



But in its current incarnation, the iPhone does not support stylus use, as the touch panel on its display requires a conductive pointer -- like the human finger -- to be recognized. Apple's patent application would address this with a conductive tip for a stylus that would be recognized by such a screen.



"A metallic or otherwise conductive disk may be attached to one end of the stylus," the application reads. "The disk may be sized so as to guarantee sufficient electrical interaction with at least one sensory element of the touch sensor panel."



The application also presents the option of a powered stylus that would provide the stimulus signal required by a capacitive touch screen. A powered stylus could also include sensors that would measure elements like force and angle that would transmit additional information to the device.







"This additional data can be used for selecting various features in an application executing on the host device (e.g., selecting various colors, brushes, shading, line widths, etc.)," the application reads.







The invention is credited to John G. Elias, an Apple employee and co-founder of FingerWorks, the firm acquired by Apple during the development of the original iPhone. The application is titled "Stylus Adapted For Low Resolution Touch Sensor Panels." It was submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on July 11, 2008.



Dynamic graphical user interface for mobile devices



Future portable devices could have different input methods and user interfaces depending on where they are located, according to another Apple patent application.



For example, using the device in the car or in the gym could show a different design on the screen. Devices could also be controlled in different fashions when they are docked and less portable, and a different design and input method might make more sense.



"Each mode may define different features and content that are customized for a particular mode," the application reads. "Based a selected mode, the media player may provide access to only content, features, hardware, user interface elements, and the like that the user wishes to have access to when the mode is enabled. The media player may provide the user different experiences, looks, and feels for each mode."



Users would be able to customize each of the different GUIs available. The goal, the application states, is to create a "cleaner, more focused user experience."



Custom layouts and playlists could be created for use at the gym or while driving, which would automatically be reconfigured when a particular mode is enabled.



"The mode may further specify how applications relevant to the mode may be displayed, such as backgrounds, icons, style information, themes, or other information that provides a visual indicator of the active mode," the document reads.



The application, entitled "Multi-Model Modes of One Device," is credited to William Bull and Ben Rottler. It was submitted on Sept. 9, 2008.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member
    Would't that make a little more sense in a tablet? not that it would hurt the phone.
  • Reply 2 of 21
    A stylus? I see no point for one unless you live in the frigid areas of the world where you wear gloves. Even then, don't they make gloves that work on the iPhone?
  • Reply 3 of 21
    irelandireland Posts: 17,751member
    You can't get around the fact that if you want to do intricate work your finger in just too fat.
  • Reply 4 of 21
    mactrippermactripper Posts: 1,328member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    You can't get around the fact that if you want to do intricate work your finger in just too fat.





    Hell for me just clicking on links is a pain in the ass on the iPhone.



    A stylus already exists for the iPhone, again we have to go a third party to get a Apple product to work correctly.



    Ditto for the glossy screens.
  • Reply 5 of 21
    eehdeehd Posts: 137member
    This sounds like devolution. Why would we go back to a stylus? I know someone mentioned cold weather, which to a certain extent, I can understand, but I live in NYC where the winters can be really cold, and I just take my gloves off when I need to do something on the iPhone...mind you, that only happens when I'm on my way to the subway, so I can wait until I'm in a warm place to use the iPhone.
  • Reply 6 of 21
    And now, we have a hit on our hands.



    It's a notebook, it's a sketchbook, it's an iPod Touch. It just wasn't going to fly without the stylus.



    I was worried about what audience this was going to target. We already have iPhones. We already have laptops. This will expand the devices usability tremendously. If it's true, and it does come with a pressure-sensetive (Wacom-like) stylus I'll buy one day one.



    Very happy rumor indeed.



    =)
  • Reply 7 of 21
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    You can't get around the fact that if you want to do intricate work your finger in just too fat.



    Not mine, but I can see that issue with several other people.
  • Reply 8 of 21
    A stylus is a great optional peripheral.



    As long as the UI can be navigated with your finger and the stylus is just an option for finer-grained input, I'm all for it. In fact, if the tablet shipped without one, I'd just pick one up from a third party.
  • Reply 9 of 21
    A stylus ( like the Pogo stylus ) would allow you to draw more intuitively than using your fingers.



    Can't see myself choosing the iPod as a sketchpad over an actual sketchpad, but a 10" tablet as a sketchpad?



    With a decent - doesn't have to be too ambitious - sketching program and ability to transfer those sketches onto the computer for further work?



    Tempting, depending on price.



    Even more temptingly useful if photos can be sketched-upon from either it's own internal camera ( awkward picture-taking ) or from synching photos directly from your own camera.



    ( Too much to ask? Apple? less hassle than a laptop and a graphics tablet? save buying a Windows Tablet? Apple? Hello? )



    How about an iChat white board where people can add notes as they chat on it's internal webcam? Maybe next year...
  • Reply 10 of 21
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    You can't get around the fact that if you want to do intricate work your finger in just too fat.



    I've been saying that the Tablet will have the ability for stylus input for some time. We all know it goes against the grain but It just makes sense for this device IN ADDITION to regular multitouch, obviously not as a replacement. It is a must for artists and designers who plan to employ the tablet as a useful, real world tool. The 'slate' form factor lends itself to this form of input for that reason. Really, there are just too many potential uses and users. Even if Apple leaves it up to 3rd party manufactures to produce the stylus itself, I believe the ability will be there.
  • Reply 11 of 21
    I'm reminding everyone that the Tablet is not an iPhone.

    IPhone does not need a stylus, just your hand and thumb. It's cumbersome to pull out a stylus to make a call.



    The tablet is much bigger. Text input on onscreen keyboard works best flat on the table? Maybe. Or holding it in one hand and typing with a finger. Writing long texts would be cumbersome. Handwriting is more natural but using a finger is going backwards. Pens, pencils, brushes is a working model for ages and is accurate for putting information. The tablet will also be like a digital paper. Pen input will be the secondary method of input for the tablet.
  • Reply 12 of 21
    crees!crees! Posts: 501member
    So in the wrong thread.
  • Reply 13 of 21
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post


    A stylus? I see no point for one unless you live in the frigid areas of the world where you wear gloves. Even then, don't they make gloves that work on the iPhone?



    you can't (currently) draw properly without one. You can doodle, and with a lot of extra effort you can simulate drawing, (zooming in and out), but that's it for now.
  • Reply 14 of 21
    This kinda goes in the other direction than Apple intended for the iPhone. Jobs used these exact words: "Who want's a stylus? Nobody want's a stylus, Blegh!"
  • Reply 15 of 21
    As long as the stylus is optional. For those who want it, fine. Before the iPhone, I had three Palm Pilots, and I am so glad to not have to use a stylus anymore.



    A mode to use while driving? Is Apple going to encourage the use of their devices while driving? Better rethink that one.
  • Reply 16 of 21
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post


    Hell for me just clicking on links is a pain in the ass on the iPhone.



    A stylus already exists for the iPhone, again we have to go a third party to get a Apple product to work correctly.



    funny cause my fingers aren't dainty but I can type, click just fine without any sort of 3rd party anything for my iphone. and all my friends, coworkers and such do just fine without anything either.



    but I guess we aren't using our phones "correctly"



    interestingly none of us have any real problem with that 'incorrect' glossy screen either. we don't bother with covers to 'correct' them since we have no issues. guess we are just too dumb to know that we are doing things incorrectly.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Banalltv View Post


    A stylus ( like the Pogo stylus ) would allow you to draw more intuitively than using your fingers.



    Can't see myself choosing the iPod as a sketchpad over an actual sketchpad, but a 10" tablet as a sketchpad?



    With a decent - doesn't have to be too ambitious - sketching program and ability to transfer those sketches onto the computer for further work?



    Tempting, depending on price.



    don't expect it to be too slick.



    the dominant and more logical rumors are that thing new device will be a step up from the iphone,not a step down from the computer. in other words, don't assume it will have the power of a full laptop.



    so any drawing program would be something akin to sketching on a napkin at the pub rather than full on Illustrator etc work. which could still be useful and done with a finger. although an optional 3rd party pointer like a pogo would work also.



    any photo editing would be quickie stuff as well. tagging your favorites, marking a crop box etc. not full on pixelator/photoshop work. but again, still useful too many.



    QUOTE=Gazoobee;1549337]you can't (currently) draw properly without one. You can doodle, and with a lot of extra effort you can simulate drawing, (zooming in and out), but that's it for now.[/QUOTE]



    it might not be 'proper' drawing, but there have been some impressive results
  • Reply 17 of 21
    And we did it with just a brick of slightly wet sponge... Should have filed a patent for that.
  • Reply 18 of 21
    irelandireland Posts: 17,751member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post


    Not mine, but I can see that issue with several other people.



    I'm sorry but I'm going to assume your finger is wider than one pixel. It's too fat, I don't need to see your hands.
  • Reply 19 of 21
    Have you all forgotten about Inkwell? Perhaps the tablet will have handwriting recognition abilities that surpass that originally released with the Newton. Did you all think that Inkwell was included in OS X for no real reason? It's been there waiting for a real use...and it looks like it might be upon us with an upcoming product release...
  • Reply 20 of 21
    irelandireland Posts: 17,751member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Roc Ingersol View Post


    A stylus is a great optional peripheral.



    As long as the UI can be navigated with your finger and the stylus is just an option for finer-grained input, I'm all for it.



    Exactly, you've nailed exactly what I think it the optimal solution.
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