Apple awarded litany of vital iOS GUI patents, continuations

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Apple on Tuesday was awarded a flotilla of patents pertinent to its iOS devices, especially the iPhone, with the inventions covering everything from intuitive scrolling to email clients.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a number of Apple patents early Tuesday, at least five of which relate to iOS and more specifically the iPhone and iPad. Most are continuations of previous patents, offering tweaks and language changes that further define their respective inventions.

Email client GUI

Perhaps the most interesting of Tuesday's published patents is U.S. Patent No. 8,253,695 for an "Email client for a portable multifunction device." The invention was first filed for in 2007 and describes a graphical user interface for an email system to be used on portable devices like the iPhone.

According to the patent background, the '695 patent was meant to do away with clumsy button-controlled operation of email clients as seen on devices at the time. It is noted that conventional methods of handling electronic messages are not intuitive and sometimes require complex menu systems. Apple sought to simplify things with by adding the power of a touchscreen into the mix.

The patent calls for a touchscreen device to display both a list of emails and the messages themselves. In the system, the first portion of a list of email entries is displayed with their respective subject headings. Upon detecting a gesture on the touchscreen, a preview area is created in a second area of the screen, this time showing a portion of the message with the subject line removed. When the email preview is displayed, the list of entries is still viewable above, and both areas are browsable using finger gestures.

Email
Source: USPTO


While it seems the patent wasn't implemented in the iPhone, which has a hierarchical GUI to conserve valuable screen real estate, the solution could one day find its way to a future Apple device.

Among the patent's inventors is Scott Forstall, Apple's senior vice president of iOS Software.

Touchscreen GUI patents

Among the patents issued to Apple were four UI inventions: a continuation of the company's "rubber-banding" utility; a graphical representation of available storage; a property regarding missed phone calls; and an interface to intuitively edit text content.

U.S. Patent No. 8,255,798 for a "Device, method, and graphical user interface for electronic document translation on a touch-screen display," describes a solution for manipulating electronic documents, like web pages or emails, on a small-screened portable device.

A continuation of Apple's '381 "rubber-banding" patent, which the company successfully asserted against Samsung in its recent high-stakes trial, the '789 patent offers an intuitive UI for "scrolling lists of items and for translating, rotating, and scaling electronic documents that are easy to use, configure, and/or adapt." The claims are nearly identical, and propose a system in which an electronic document is "translated," or moved in the same direction as a user's finger when scrolling. Once the edge of the document is reached, and the user lifts their finger off the screen, the document will "bounce" back to fill the display. The area around the document's edges must be "visually distinct," as seen in iOS 5's grey patterned background.

Other than a few detailed changes and cleaning up of ambiguous wording, the '798 patent is nearly identical to its parent property.

Scrolling


Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,255,428 for "Graphical representation of assets stored on a portable media device," looks to present a UI that allows a user to view the amount of storage used by quickly viewing a chart or other graphic.

The invention, filed for in 2011, is meant to be used in portable media players like the iPod touch, but can be extended for use in the iPhone and iPad. According to the patent summary, metadata is taken from various media types, including video and audio, and is then displayed graphically.

In some embodiments, a pie chart can be used to display information regarding a list of media assets, such as song length, song type or artist. By breaking up a user's media library into groups, the patent allows for an enhanced overview of how storage is being utilized in their device. Basically, the invention is a way to graphically compare various media metrics, from genres in a playlist all the way down to individual songs.

Storage


Next is a continuation of another Apple invention. U.S. Patent No. 8,255,003 for "Missed telephone call management for a portable multifunction device," describes the missed phone call system seen in iOS.

From the patent summary:
Missed telephone call information is displayed, including a list of items, wherein at least one of the items corresponds to a plurality of missed telephone calls from a respective caller.
Also described is the missed call list that has been present on the iPhone since it was first introduced in 2007. Users can simply touch a name or contact from the list to automatically dial that person's number.

Going further, a second object is present that will open the contact's information, where a variety of methods such as email can be selected by the user for communication.

Missed Call


Finally, Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,255,830 for "Methods and graphical user interfaces for editing on a multifunction device with a touch screen display," is a continuation of a previous invention regarding how users edit text input on a touch screen.

iDevice users will be familiar with the '830 patent's main graphical asset: the magnifying glass. What is called for is a method in which a user can easily select a string of characters to edit, which is accomplished by use of magnification and unique graphical assets like text highlighting.

According to the patent's claims, a user touches editable content which is then magnified. An insertion marker is then presented, with highlighted text following the user's finger until it is lifted off the screen. Upon lift off, a second insertion marker is displayed, denoting the boundary of text to be edited and a command icon is shown offering options such as cutting or copying.

Editing


The invention is an attempt to elegantly solve the problem of selecting and editing content on a touchscreen device.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 64
    mauszmausz Posts: 243member


    Congratulations to Apple, but most of these serve as perfect examples why software patents should not have been introduced....


     


    These are not inventions, but programming solutions.

  • Reply 2 of 64
    kreshkresh Posts: 379member


    Just listen, you can hear the FOSSer's screaming on Engadget, Ars, Life Hacker and on and on.  I just love that sound image

  • Reply 3 of 64
    stniukstniuk Posts: 90member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mausz View Post


    Congratulations to Apple, but most of these serve as perfect examples why software patents should not have been introduced....


     


    These are not inventions, but programming solutions.



     


    I hope Samung et al produce their own programming solutions.

  • Reply 4 of 64
    bizzlebizzle Posts: 66member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by stniuk View Post


     


    I hope Samung et al produce their own programming solutions.



    why? they should just innovatively copy these

  • Reply 5 of 64
    sennensennen Posts: 1,472member
    stniuk wrote: »
    I hope Samung et al produce their own programming solutions.

    Precisely. Innovate, don't imitate.
  • Reply 6 of 64
    Interestingly enough, the split screen email view described in the patent was shown off in the initial iPhone presentation in 2007, but the view was removed before the phone was released.
  • Reply 7 of 64
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    kresh wrote: »
    Just listen, you can hear the FOSSer's screaming on Engadget, Ars, Life Hacker and on and on.  I just love that sound :lol:

    It's hard to hear them because they're being drowned out by the legal sites that object to software patents in general - like Groklaw and Foss patents.
  • Reply 8 of 64
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,697member
    mausz wrote: »
    Congratulations to Apple, but most of these serve as perfect examples why software patents should not have been introduced....

    These are not inventions, but programming solutions.

    An invention is a unique or novel device, method, composition or process.: (wikipedia). Why wouldn't a software solution be a process? Programming is somehow less important to you? As opposed to say, the patented glass bead that reflects car headlights, an invention using physical things. Why is a human's genius to solve a problem in a unique way any less worthy of protection just because it is in software rather than hardware? We live in times when so much is done in software that was previously done by hardware, your attitude seems Victorian to me.

    I just glanced at my Nest Thermostat and have to wonder how many mechanical parts, inventions if you will, in this little miracle are replaced by 'programming solutions'?
  • Reply 9 of 64
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,697member
    The cry seems to be from the Apple haters ... "It's just not fair Apple thinks of everything first and gets to patent it. We want to law changed so the crappy companies we love can copy what Apple think up!"
  • Reply 10 of 64
    jcallowsjcallows Posts: 150member


    Since some of these recently approved patents build on the ones Samsung has accused of being invalid, does this mean they will more likely be reaffirmed as valid at the patent office?

  • Reply 11 of 64

    Quote:


    Apple awarded litany of vital iOS GUI patents, continuations


    Apple on Tuesday was awarded a flotilla



    a "litany"? - why bring God into it?


     


    a flotilla? - are these things boats?


     


    Surely Roget has something more apt. Why not a "raft or a "slew" or a "herd", "horde", "shower", or even "bubble mat"? They seem to give the sense of a "multitude", or "host"


     


    But "litany"? That sounds like one hand whinging.

    #next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }

     


    #next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }

     
  • Reply 12 of 64
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,697member
    publiclee wrote: »
    a "litany"? - why bring God into it?

    a flotilla? - are these things boats?

    Surely Roget has something more apt. Why not a "raft or a "slew" or a "herd", "horde", "shower", or even "bubble mat"? They seem to give the sense of a "multitude", or "host"

    But "litany"? That sounds like one hand whinging.
     
     

    Got to say, 'Multitude' and 'Host' both make me think of those boring bible classes when I was small. lol
  • Reply 13 of 64
    ecsecs Posts: 307member


    We're arriving to a point where independent developers won't be able to design and implement new GUIs by adding their innovation and contribution to the previous innovation of older developments. Shocking thing that the current Apple products build their innovation on the unpatented work of others. Apple innovations are awesome, but patents forbid others to do what Apple did on the past (innovate over the work of others).


     


    And no, I'm not a Samsung fan, and yes I'm an Apple user and costumer (and enjoying it), but I'm sad to see that the only way to design innovative GUIs today is to either invent everything from scratch, or forget designing GUIs and develop apps.

  • Reply 14 of 64
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    mausz wrote: »
    Congratulations to Apple, but most of these serve as perfect examples why software patents should not have been introduced....

    These are not inventions, but programming solutions.


    So inventions aren't solutions?
  • Reply 15 of 64
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,616member
    ecs wrote: »
    and yes I'm an Apple user and costumer (and enjoying it),

    Wassat then? Do you sell/rent Apple costumes?
  • Reply 16 of 64
    c4rlobc4rlob Posts: 277member


    Normally I would think these kind of interface solutions are more a matter of combining function and sophisticated styling less than something unique to patent. But then again, an artist can write a song which is basically a combining of pre-existing melody segments and chord progressions and copyright it to receive royalties if anyone else copies it too closely for profit. Additionally, I think the majority of mobile device interfaces prior to iPhone were so lacking in function+style, Apple 'deserves' (a subjective word) recognition for introducing a new method that was both immediately distinct and immediately useful for an entire industry. Regardless of what it may be in theory, in practice that sounds like a patent to me. And Apple is doing their due diligence to itemize the individual aspects  they as the creator deem to be important for their design.

  • Reply 17 of 64
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,697member
    solipsismx wrote: »
    So inventions aren't solutions?

    I'm sure there is a word to describe people who think in a fixed and limited time span, I just can't think of it. His attitude and those saying the same thing about software doesn't deserve protection brings to mind a Larson style cartoon of a cave man looking at a wooden wheel another cave man has made and saying 'You can't patent that, it's not made of stone!"
  • Reply 18 of 64
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mausz View Post


    Congratulations to Apple, but most of these serve as perfect examples why software patents should not have been introduced....


     


    These are not inventions, but programming solutions.



     


     


    There is no appreciable difference between inventing and programming solutions. Apple created  a GUI that solved certain problems. The bounce back and tap to zoom were creative solutions and not obvious at the time of creation. There are other ways perhaps more cumbersome ways to achieve the same results. Apple spend hundred of hours coming up with these solutions, and deserves to be protected. Certain other features like pinch to zoom might be considered obvious, and protection might be questionable. There are alternate ways to address that as well. However, patent law allows such patents to be challenged. 


     


    I have more of an issue with copyright protection for software programming. 

  • Reply 19 of 64
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,697member
    c4rlob wrote: »
    Normally I would think these kind of interface solutions are more a matter of combining function and sophisticated styling less than something unique to patent. But then again, an artist can write a song which is basically a combining of pre-existing melody segments and chord progressions and copyright it to receive royalties if anyone else copies it too closely for profit. Additionally, I think the majority of mobile device interfaces prior to iPhone were so lacking in function+style, Apple 'deserves' (a subjective word) recognition for introducing a new method that was both immediately distinct and immediately useful for an entire industry. Regardless of what it may be in theory, in practice that sounds like a patent to me. And Apple is doing their due diligence to itemize the individual aspects  they as the creator deem to be important for their design.

    That is an excellent analogy. Samsung would argue while selling an identical copy of "I want to hold your hand" 'What ... the Beatles invented notes and words?"
  • Reply 20 of 64
    mcrsmcrs Posts: 172member


    Funny, I know the old Windows Phone already have these functionalities since about two years ago . It was windows mobile 6.x skin created by a group of programmers. And, I don't think the poor hobbyist-tinkerer programmers ever had a thought of patenting their idea. Great job Apple...., another people's idea got patented and later to be monetized. 


     


    Quote:


    Missed telephone call information is displayed, including a list of items, wherein at least one of the items corresponds to a plurality of missed telephone calls from a respective caller.


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