Apple details cursor-based QuickLook and advanced functions

Posted:
in macOS edited January 2014
Apple is exploring new ways to use the Mac OS cursor to provide users with additional information and usability options for files residing on their hard drive or linked via the internet before they're triggered or activated.



A patent filing published for the first time on Thursday notes that it's often useful for a user to be given an indication as to the content of a target file or link, before the user clicks on the user-activatable element that will open the target.



Cursor limitations



However, the text or icon normally associated with a user-activatable element in today's computer operating systems is typically insufficient to provide a user with enough information to determine whether the target item is of interest.



For instance, the appearance of an on-screen cursor may change to a text entry cursor (vertical bar) when positioned in a text entry field, or morph into a hand or arrow when positioned over a movable object, which offers some information as to the type of input operation that can be performed.



"However, such limited information generally fails to provide useful information about a target item referenced by a user-activatable element," Apple wrote. "In particular, current user interfaces do not generally provide any technique for providing detailed information about a target within a cursor in a manner that is responsive and dynamically controllable by the user."



Instead, the company proposes methods for changing the appearance of an on-screen cursor to provide excerpt of the contents of a target, what applications are available to open the target, as well as meta-data or other descriptive information concerning the target.



QuickLook



One method described in the filing essentially relates to making QuickLook technology -- currently available in the Finder of Mac OS X Leopard, and system icons in Mac OS X Snow Leopard betas -- accessible to the cursor. In the example shown below, a thumbnail of a web page is displayed natively by Apple's Safari browser when a user places the mouse over a hyperlink.







Similarly, a mouse-over can present the user with an icon representing the type of document associated with link when a thumbnail image is not available or cannot be read quickly enough to provide satisfactory response time.







Launch and operational controls



Most useful, however, are mouse-over events that cause the cursor to produce visual representations of the options available for working with a file or link. In the example shown below, a mouse-over event results in the display of four operations a user can perform on a file, such as a folder of pictures or a video file. Without activating the file, dragging it to a dock icon, or using a contextual menu, the user can choose to initiate a slideshow, email the file, send the file via iChat, or begin playing or displaying the file.







Likewise, the cursor may instead display four applications suitable for working with a file, letting the user open the file within an application other than its default application without having to use a contextual menu or fussing with the Mac OS X dock. For example, a mouse-over event on a text file would allow the user to open the file in either Word, BBedit, Pages, or Text Edit.



The 17-page filing is credited to Apple engineer John Louch.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    Umm... why are the screen shots of Internet Explorer??
  • Reply 2 of 23
    kasperkasper Posts: 940member, administrator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by moiety5 View Post


    Umm... why are the screen shots of Internet Explorer??



    Not sure -- I found that odd as well. It's certainly an Apple filing, however.



    Best,



    K
  • Reply 3 of 23
    zzcoopzzcoop Posts: 28member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kasper View Post


    Not sure -- I found that odd as well. It's certainly an Apple filing, however.



    Best,



    K



    To create confusion. Obviously, it's working.
  • Reply 4 of 23
    \ half of those have been available through firefox extensions for years....
  • Reply 5 of 23
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by swim2383 View Post


    \ half of those have been available through firefox extensions for years....



    We're talking about full OS here, not just a browser. Once a file is off the Internet, Firefox can't help you...
  • Reply 6 of 23
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    In the example shown below, a thumbnail of a web page is displayed natively by Apple's Safari browser when a user places the mouse over a hyperlink.



    What's even funnier is that there are screen shots of Internet Explorer and the article says it's a screen shot of Safari.
  • Reply 7 of 23
    Ask.com already shows you a preview of what the link is when you hover your mouse over it. I think they've had that as a feature for over a year now. I guess they didn't file a patent for that idea.
  • Reply 8 of 23
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,541member
    QuickLook is a great feature. In fact it may well be my favorite Leopard feature. Certainly the one I use the most on a daily basis. This development sounds like it could be an excellent improvement.



    While we are on the subject of useful system shortcuts - I still think the OSX finder needs work. One thing I have always liked about Windows is the ability to right click in any dialog window and make file and folder changes.
  • Reply 9 of 23
    elrothelroth Posts: 1,201member
    As long as you can turn it off, it's fine with me. This could be really annoying.
  • Reply 10 of 23
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by paxman View Post


    QuickLook is a great feature. In fact it may well be my favorite Leopard feature. Certainly the one I use the most on a daily basis. This development sounds like it could be an excellent improvement.



    While we are on the subject of useful system shortcuts - I still think the OSX finder needs work. One thing I have always liked about Windows is the ability to right click in any dialog window and make file and folder changes.



    I agree. I've been asking for this feature for a long time. I think dialog windows should be completely interactive Finder windows, such as with (gasp) Windows. Sometimes you are navigating in a dialog and see something you want to move/rename/etc. and then you have to go find it again in a Finder window.
  • Reply 11 of 23
    physguyphysguy Posts: 912member
    It would be very nice if AppleInsider would publish a link to the patent in the articles on patents so that those of us that would like to read the original material could do so without a lot of work to find them.



    Patent Application



    Thanks,
  • Reply 12 of 23
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by elroth View Post


    As long as you can turn it off, it's fine with me. This could be really annoying.



    I had an antivirus program on my workbench computer that did the same thing. I turned off that feature pretty quickly. I tend to turn off GUI animations quickly too, they tend to make me dizzy more than anything else.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kultist View Post


    We're talking about full OS here, not just a browser. Once a file is off the Internet, Firefox can't help you...



    That's nice, but I don't see how that distinction suddenly makes the preview claim patentable vs. obstructed due to prior art, which I mean the first image in the article. The options on what to do (play, open with..) looks to me like a graphical refactoring of the contextual menu (right click). The basic idea is the same, just presented a more GUI-like way.
  • Reply 13 of 23
    virgil-tb2virgil-tb2 Posts: 1,416member
    The little icons sound interesting to me, but the tiny preview of the web page linked to is an abomination. Many sites (curiously mostly run by middle-aged or senior citizen type folks), already do this and I find it extremely annoying. I hope that part can be turned off at least or it's a deal breaker for me.



    Another thing I find interesting is that this whole patent replaces functionality that Apple kind of removed in the first place.



    Being an old-timer on the Internet, I always have the status bar open at the bottom of the browser for the purpose of examining the links that I am hovering over, whereas Apple's default is to turn off the status bar as "wasting screen space." Steve Jobs is also known to hate the status bar. Additionally, Windows loves it's mouse-over text and uses it everywhere in and outside the browser, but Mac, not so much.



    So this whole "mouse-over on steroids" thing is sort of replacing something that isn't really missing in the first place.
  • Reply 14 of 23
    cubertcubert Posts: 728member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by moiety5 View Post


    Umm... why are the screen shots of Internet Explorer??



    AND, the PDF icon is Adobe's not Preview!
  • Reply 15 of 23
    galleygalley Posts: 971member
    Perhaps the mouse-over is only active when the Option key is pressed.
  • Reply 16 of 23
    irelandireland Posts: 17,095member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Galley View Post


    Perhaps the mouse-over is only active when the Option key is pressed.



    This is code speak for a right click right?
  • Reply 17 of 23
    zandroszandros Posts: 537member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    This is code speak for a right click right?



    No, that 's the control key?



    /Adrian
  • Reply 18 of 23
    irelandireland Posts: 17,095member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Zandros View Post


    No, that 's the control key?



    /Adrian



    To be sure lol
  • Reply 19 of 23
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 816member
    A not-so-quicklook then. With these thought bubbles are Apple telling us how to think?
  • Reply 20 of 23
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 816member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    I had an antivirus program on my workbench computer that did the same thing. I turned off that feature pretty quickly. I tend to turn off GUI animations quickly too, they tend to make me dizzy more than anything else.



    Too right - this could go very right or very wrong though if anyone could pull it off successfully your money would have to be on Apple.



    McD
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