The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of nine newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. The notables within this group include one that relates to Apple's "Slide to Unlock" iOS GUI function and one for Aperture's "magnifying loupe" feature that assists digital photographers. And being that the iPhone nano is on the front burner again, we once again review Apple's two standing patents on this product which range from a simple design to that of a ground breaking dual-surface mini device that could rock the market. With the iPad's popularity growing, there's a definite need for a smaller smartphone. With HP taking the lead here, Apple has to ramp up their efforts on the iPhone nano or risk falling behind in this hot emerging trend.
Granted Patent: Power-Off Method
Apple has been granted a patent for their "Powering Off" and "Slide to Unlock" GUI features found on iOS devices.
Technically Speaking, Apple's patent covers portable devices with a display and a power switch configured to prevent the accidental engagement of the power switch and the resulting unintended powering-off of the device. In some embodiments, after a user requests a power-off action (by depressing the power button, for example), a visual cue is shown on the display to provide the user with feedback on the progress of the power-off action. A method implemented in some embodiments includes: while the device is powered-up, detecting activation of the power switch; upon activation of the power switch, initiating display of a power-off visual sequence; as long as the power switch is activated, displaying elements of the power-off visual sequence; if the activation of the power switch ceases before the power-off visual sequence is displayed to completion, terminating the power-off action; and if the power-off visual sequence is displayed to completion while the power switch is activated, powering-off the device.
Apple credits CEO Steven Jobs, Senior VP of iPhone Software Scott Forstall and team members Greg Christie, Stephen Lemay, Marcel Van Os, Imran Chaudhri, Freddy Anzures and Patrick as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,890,778 originally filed in Q2 2007.
Granted Patent: 2007 iPod Shuffle
Apple has been granted a patent for their now defunct iPod shuffle which uniquely doubled as a USB drive. This is also another invention where CEO Steve Jobs is noted as being one of the inventors along with Jony Ive and Anthony Fadell
Granted Patent: Aperture's Magnifying Loupe
Apple's patent covers and illustrates embodiments of the invention that enable selected portions of visual information to be displayed on a screen in a magnified manner using a virtual loupe. A virtual loupe is a user interface object that may be displayed over any portion of a screen, and which may be used by a user to magnify any portion of the screen. For example, a user may use the virtual loupe to magnify a portion of a digital image displayed on a screen. In this way, the user may use the virtual loupe to view a portion of the digital image at a higher level of magnification than the remainder of the digital image shown on the screen in a manner similar to how a user might use a physical loupe to view a magnified portion of a physical photograph. This is advantageous, as a physical loupe cannot be effectively used on a screen displaying electronic data.
While numerous examples in the patent involve the use of the virtual loupe in the context of digital photography, the virtual loupe may be used in a variety of contexts, including those outside of digital photography. For example, a user may use the virtual loupe to magnify any portion of a screen, such as a web page displayed by a web browser, an email, a toolbar, or a hierarchy of folders. In this way, the virtual loupe may serve as an accessibility feature to allow those who would prefer to view visual information displayed on a screen at a greater magnification level to do so.
Apple's FIG. 5 is a graphical depiction of the display of a virtual loupe that provides a menu in Aperture.
Apple credits Egan Schulz, Andrew Lin and Will as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,889,212 originally filed in Q3 2006.
Speculation Swirls around a possible iPhone nano
In late January we pointed to the likelihood of HP veering into Apple's face. Well, they did with a mini smartphone called Veer. Shortly after Veer's introduction was made at the HP "Think Beyond Event" – rumors of Apple secret project surrounding their iPhone nano product began to surface.
Patently Apple was first to notice that Apple had filed their stunning iPhone nano patent in Australia in July 2009 showing that the project was in fact still alive and contrary to reports on the matter. In March 2010, Apple was granted a patent for a less spectacular iPhone nano – but important nonetheless.
At the moment the iPhone nano is still tentative, but I find it odd that these iPhone nano rumors surfaced so quickly after HP had shown that they'll have the jump on Apple. Either the rumors were to act as a distraction to HP's news or a certain someone at Apple, who doesn't believe in talking about future products, started the rumor so as to make it clear to Wall Street that HP won't be alone in that segment of the market.
At the end of the day, Apple is covered by two completely different kinds of iPhone nano patents. Whether one will eventually surface in the market is unknown at this point in time. However, the point that matters most at present, is that HP is likely to beat Apple to market with a mini smartphone and that this news has apparently taken Apple by surprise.
Apple Emphasizes Tickets
Apple's latest TV ad dubbed the "iPad is Iconic" emphasizes "Tickets" and illustrates an Airline application specifically. This supports Apple's patents on tickets in general and more specifically, tickets related to iTravel.
Other Granted Patents Published Today
Apple has been granted a patent for a shock sensor mounted in iOS devices; another for displaying hyperlink information on touch displays; another for a method and system for video encoding using a variable number of B frames; a patent that covers wireless communications and antennas relating to the iOS devices cellular and not; and lastly, Apple has been granted a patent related to a method and system for discovering a power source on a peripheral bus.
Notice: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of patents with associated graphic(s) for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application and/or Granted Patent is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application and/or Issued Patent should be read in its entirety for further details. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
Humor: The Ellen Show shows off iPhone nano prototype.