Apple exploring smarter Smart Cover, new gesture controls for iPad

Posted:
in iPad edited February 2015
Future iPads could come with even fewer physical buttons, as Apple is evaluating new ways to show contextually relevant information and allow quick access to device controls based on the position of the iPad's Smart Cover, according to a patent application published Thursday by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.




The application, dubbed "Device Input Modes With Corresponding User Interfaces," details a method by which users could access information on an iPad by only partially opening the Smart Cover. The same move would also cause the tablet to begin watching for specific gestures, which could be used to quickly change settings.

"The device's ease of use can be increased by enabling access to certain resources or features without requiring the user to unlock the device," the application reads.

Folding away the first segment of the Smart Cover could reveal the latest notification, such as the subject and sender of an email message, for instance. Further opening the cover could show an expanded e-mail interface that allows the user to read the message without unlocking the iPad.

Gestures could also be designated for use in adjusting device parameters while in so-called "peek mode." One example given by Apple is the ability to adjust the iPad's display brightness by opening the first segment of the Smart Cover and swiping laterally across the display.




Similarly, swiping vertically could raise or lower the speaker volume, while a circular motion could enable or disable the orientation lock. This could be accomplished with or without the aid of on-screen graphics.

Apple also envisions a scenario in which users could start with the Smart Cover fully open, and reduce the display area by closing segments of the cover. For example, a video playing in full-screen mode with an open Smart Cover could be automatically reduced to fill the available screen real estate as the cover is closed.

To accomplish this, Apple imagines adding additional magnetic sensors to the iPad to correspond with additional magnets in the second and third segments of the Smart Cover. The company also notes that other sensors, such as ambient light sensors or even the built-in iSight camera, could be leveraged to determine the Smart Cover's position.

Apple credits Stephen C. Horne with the invention of U.S. Patent Application No. 13/946,756, originally filed on July 19, 2013.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    solipsismysolipsismy Posts: 5,099member
    That's what I proposed years ago so you can flip the first panel up to see basic info, like notifications and simple widgets, but that means the device needs to be smarter so it knows when one or two of the panels are lifted.
  • Reply 2 of 22
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismY View Post



    That's what I proposed years ago so you can flip the first panel up to see basic info, like notifications and simple widgets, but that means the device needs to be smarter so it knows when one or two of the panels are lifted.



    And for that, I think it'd need more magnets, which means you couldn't retrofit this to older iPads.

  • Reply 3 of 22
    solipsismysolipsismy Posts: 5,099member
    And for that, I think it'd need more magnets, which means you couldn't retrofit this to older iPads.

    More magnets seem most likely to me, but they could use light or proximity sensors, for example, as well.
  • Reply 4 of 22
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Apple has Smart Cover type patents going all the way back to 2011. I wonder what they're waiting for to release something?
  • Reply 5 of 22
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    solipsismy wrote: »
    That's what I proposed years ago so you can flip the first panel up to see basic info, like notifications and simple widgets, but that means the device needs to be smarter so it knows when one or two of the panels are lifted.

    How would that work with Touch ID?
  • Reply 6 of 22
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    Apple has Smart Cover type patents going all the way back to 2011. I wonder what they're waiting for to release something?



    That's the thing with this patent, it says 2013 but it still has the 30-pin Dock Connector on the iPad.

  • Reply 7 of 22
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,666member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismY View Post



    That's what I proposed years ago so you can flip the first panel up to see basic info, like notifications and simple widgets, but that means the device needs to be smarter so it knows when one or two of the panels are lifted.



    Yup - I remember and thought it was a great idea :)

  • Reply 8 of 22
    rogifan wrote: »
    How would that work with Touch ID?

    I image the same it works now with the iPhone and iPad where you have the option to show certain info on the lock screen. This would (mostly) just move and reorientate the info to a different section of the display while it's locked.
  • Reply 9 of 22
    v900v900 Posts: 101member
    It's a nice idea... But not if it'll cost us the side/volume buttons.

    In that case changing volume or screen orientation lock, without going into the UI/control centre would become an extra feature dependent on the purchase of a Smart Cover.

    So no thanks!

    (A smartcover might seem like a small expense for most of us, but guess what: There are plenty of low income families or retired people, who may have been able to save up for a second hand iPad, but who don't have the budget to treat a 30$ cover or 60$ case as the price of convenience...)
  • Reply 10 of 22

    I preferred the smart covers with three folds (as opposed to the current one with just two folds). They were more stable, especially with the iPad in the vertical viewing position. The current one makes the device flop over more than occasionally.

     

    I truly hope that they go back to the original version.

  • Reply 11 of 22
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,671member
    solipsismy wrote: »
    That's what I proposed years ago so you can flip the first panel up to see basic info, like notifications and simple widgets, but that means the device needs to be smarter so it knows when one or two of the panels are lifted.

    Was it some time before July 19, 2013? That would be 'funny'. Of course, they do have their policy in place:

    http://www.apple.com/legal/intellectual-property/policies/ideas.html

    I preferred the smart covers with three folds (as opposed to the current one with just two folds). They were more stable, especially with the iPad in the vertical viewing position. The current one makes the device flop over more than occasionally.

    I truly hope that they go back to the original version.

    The original had 4 folds.
  • Reply 12 of 22
    solipsismysolipsismy Posts: 5,099member
    philboogie wrote: »
    Was it some time before July 19, 2013? That would be 'funny'. Of course, they do have their policy in place:

    http://www.apple.com/legal/intellectual-property/policies/ideas.html

    Oh yeah. I thought of it right after the Smart Covers appeared. Of course, who's to say that I was first (I always assume I had the same idea as countless others). I certainly didn't create a patent for concept so you won't hear me claiming I'm owed for the idea (like we hear on these forums from time to time). Perhaps this will be a 12-13" iPad feature first, which is why we're only now seeing the patent application appear.
  • Reply 13 of 22
    philboogie wrote: »

    The original had 4 folds.

    I was not including the fold where the cover attaches with the magnet. Are you sure it's four on top of that?

    I recall three.... And currently see two.
  • Reply 14 of 22
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,671member
    philboogie wrote: »

    The original had 4 folds.

    I was not including the fold where the cover attaches with the magnet. Are you sure it's four on top of that?

    I recall three.... And currently see two.

    Ah, ok, I count them differently then.

    I see this as a 3 fold:

    http://www.apple.com/ipad/accessories/
  • Reply 15 of 22
    solipsismysolipsismy Posts: 5,099member
    I preferred the smart covers with three folds (as opposed to the current one with just two folds). They were more stable, especially with the iPad in the vertical viewing position. The current one makes the device flop over more than occasionally.

    I truly hope that they go back to the original version.

    The original Smart Covers also seems better quality to me. The sections seem more firm, and both the leather and inlay materials felt nicer.

    philboogie wrote: »
    Ah, ok, I count them differently then.

    I see this as a 3 fold:

    http://www.apple.com/ipad/accessories/

    I would count the sections, not the creases between the sections, giving me 4 sections and 3 sections for the older and newer, respectively.
  • Reply 16 of 22
    tenlytenly Posts: 709member
    v900 wrote: »
    It's a nice idea... But not if it'll cost us the side/volume buttons.

    In that case changing volume or screen orientation lock, without going into the UI/control centre would become an extra feature dependent on the purchase of a Smart Cover.

    So no thanks!

    (A smartcover might seem like a small expense for most of us, but guess what: There are plenty of low income families or retired people, who may have been able to save up for a second hand iPad, but who don't have the budget to treat a 30$ cover or 60$ case as the price of convenience...)

    LOL! Where did this come from? You are ranting about something that wasn't even suggested and would never happen! They would never make necessary functionality dependant on the purchase of an optional accessory.
  • Reply 17 of 22
    solipsismy wrote: »

    I would count the sections, not the creases between the sections, giving me 4 sections and 3 sections for the older and newer, respectively.

    That makes more sense. I was talking about the one with four sections.
  • Reply 18 of 22
    moreckmoreck Posts: 187member
    Though it would likely see few real-world use cases, it sounds like a really cool idea
  • Reply 19 of 22
    v900v900 Posts: 101member
    tenly wrote: »
    LOL! Where did this come from? You are ranting about something that wasn't even suggested and would never happen! They would never make necessary functionality dependant on the purchase of an optional accessory.

    Ehm, did you read the article?!? The suggestion that it could replace existing buttons is literally in the first few lines:

    "Future iPads could come with even fewer physical buttons, as Apple is evaluating new ways to show contextually relevant information and allow quick access to device controls based on the position of the iPad's Smart Cover,"

    I sure hope it would never happen! Unfortunately some people mistakenly think that simplicity and elegance is the same as "removing buttons". And unfortunately, lately we have also seen examples of Apple prioritizing design elements or marketing elements over usability, so while I think it's unlikely that they'll remove more buttons, it's not unthinkable...
  • Reply 20 of 22
    Shouldn't the Smart Cover just be a flexible screen that connects to the iPad?
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