Every new round of product updates from Apple fulfills a few dozen or more patents whether Patently Apple or anyone else covered them or not. It could be that a new product is using a new kind of screw or a new GPS module or a new twist in the way that they manufacture LED Displays. Apple doesn't release a product until their legal team has filed the right IP documents, plain and simple. Yesterday, there were three distinct patents that were fulfilled and they're worth noting even if they're not about flying cars or magic bikes. Today's report takes a look at two great little patents covering two of Aperture 3's new features along with a third patent which covers Apple's iAd services. In particular, Apple's iAd patent is about the provisioning of invitational content and its connection and interrelation with built in iPhone apps like "Compass and Maps."
Today's Problem with Traditional Ad Delivery Systems
Apple's first fulfilled patent application of the day relates to their advertising service company iAd. In it Apple first lays out the problem with traditional advertising systems for mobile devices today before presenting their own round of solutions.
A quick overview of the market and the problems that Apple's patent is to overcome are presented as follows: The use of mobile phones in the United States and around the world has increased dramatically. It is projected that soon the number of mobile phone users will exceed the number of fixed telephone subscribers. The proliferation of mobile phone usage has engendered corresponding advances in mobile phone technology. Mobile phones can now handle many types of multimedia content. Consumers can navigate the World Wide Web (the "Web") from their mobile phones to much the same degree as from their home computers. The proliferation of these new multimedia mobile phone devices has accordingly created a ripe market for content delivery, which both third-party content providers and wireless carrier companies have become increasingly interested in.
However, the content available to mobile devices is often difficult to access and preview before downloading or purchasing. Indeed, most content must be advertised or marketed in some form to the consumer, and listed in a catalog, deck or file for the consumer to access and download. Displaying advertising or marketing information becomes essential for the distribution of any content intended for the mobile device.
Nonetheless, mobile devices, and particularly mobile telephones, tablet computing devices, and PDAs are a practical invitational content delivery medium since many mobile device users spend significant amounts of time with their mobile devices. Much of this time, however, is now spent in "applications" as opposed to merely using the device as a communication device. For example, many consumers utilize their mobile devices as a GPS device, as a portal to various social networking applications, and as a gaming device. Only a small percentage of a user's operation of the device may be spent as an actual communication device. These applications are often developed by third parties (e.g., people other than the device manufacturer or the network provider), and can limit the ability of content developers to reach the end users. Some companies may provide application programming interfaces (APIs) to developers that allow access to content delivery networks or device operating system functionality, but the ability to access multiple content delivery networks and render media-rich content all within the context of an application is not currently supported.
There are also various technical difficulties with invitational content delivery on mobile devices. Some mobile device content requires multiple applications to execute on a mobile device in order to display different content. These multiple applications can sometimes overload a mobile device's operating system, causing the device to malfunction. Some mobile device operating systems cannot automatically initiate an application to display invitational content. Also, many devices are only able to display invitational content through a web/WAP portal, requiring additional transmission time from the user to view the advertising information.
An Overview of Apple's iAd Solution
The present technology found in Apple's patent relates to providing invitational content having enhanced content and capabilities to make the invitational content more engaging and useful for users. Specifically, the invitational content can be configured to call on and utilize core operating system functions, additional web content, and other mobile device applications.
Such capabilities are also extremely beneficial for invitational content developers. Rather than develop functionalities and content from scratch for each item of invitational content, the invitational content can call on and make use of these functionalities that already exist on the mobile device or applications that are already in existence, whether installed on the mobile device or not.
As an example, if the invitational content is an advertisement, it would be beneficial to a user and a content developer to be able to make use of a map application and a mobile device's GPS functionality to guide a user to a nearby shop that is advertised in the invitational content. Rather than develop a map application for each item of invitational content, it is more efficient to use pre-existing applications. Not only is the development of the invitational content made easier and faster, but the size of the invitational content is reduced and therefore less bandwidth is required to serve the invitational content to the user.
Of course, today there is a wide variety of mobile device hardware and several different mobile device operating systems. Accordingly, invitational content must be appropriate for the mobile device and operating system.
To ensure that invitational content is appropriate for the device and operating system, the present technology also makes use of a content delivery network which can learn of various device features, such as device model and operating system, among others, and serve the appropriate content. In some embodiments, the content delivery network can also provide additional software that is not resident on a device when it is needed.
Several different methods can be used to make use of mobile device operating system functionality or applications installed on the device. In one embodiment, a plug-in can be used along with a browser wherein the plug-in is configured to access operating system data. In some embodiments wherein such operating system data is protected, the operating system itself can have an agent to pass operating system parameters to the invitational content or supporting application. In such environments any supporting application or invitational content can be run in a virtual environment or sandboxed environment but still receive necessary data from the operating system agent.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 illustrates an exemplary scheme of interactivity with the invitational-content application. FIG. 3 illustrates one exemplary approach to delivering media-rich advertising to a mobile device.
Apple's patent FIG. 7 is a key illustration which presents an exemplary system embodiment (700) consisting of several modules and components: A mobile device (702) is shown in communication with a content delivery system (710). As illustrated, the mobile device includes a mobile application (704), a mediation client (706), and an application loader (708). The content delivery system is shown including the mediation server (712) and the rich media library (714).
Apple credits one of their iAd Managers Eswar Priyadarshan and team member Ravikiran Chittari as the inventors of patent application 20110113089, originally filed in Q4 2010 and relates to a provisional patent filed in 2009. Both engineers were associated with a 2010 patent which we covered under the title "Apple's Mad Men are Focused on Tracking You." See Apple's iAd webpage for more details about their advertising services. You could find more about Apple's other advertising based patents in our archives. Our Cover Graphic was taken from Apple's iAd Brands webpage.
Patent Fulfilled: Aperture 3's New Brush Feature
The next two fulfilled patents relate to Apple's Aperture 3 application. The first patent specifically relates to Apple's Brushes feature.
According to Apple's website, Aperture 3's Brushes feature lets you paint in a wide range of effects to selectively fine-tune your photos. With precise control of the size, softness, and strength of each brush, you can adjust only the parts of the image you want, leaving the rest untouched. For example, you can burn the green of a palm leaf lying on a beach to decrease the exposure and make it darker, without touching the rest of your photo. Or you can dodge just its shadow to increase the exposure and bring out the detail of the sand. No matter how much you change an image, you can always go back to the original.
The bottom graphic that is presented in our main report graphic noted above is directly from Apple's video covering their new Brushes feature which relates to a specialized cursor. You'll note that various brushes described in Apple's video match those that are present in Apple's patent figures above.
Apple credits Douglas Ahmann and Mark Kawano as the inventors of patent application 20110109646. (Here's a temporary link to Apple's Brushes patent that will only be good for a couple of days).
Patent Fulfilled: Apple's Aperture Feature for "Places" Surfaces
The last fulfilled patent of the day relates to Apple's Aperture 3 application feature simply known as "Places."
Apple's Aperture webpage states that if you're shooting with a GPS-enabled camera, Aperture 3 uses reverse geocoding to convert location coordinates into familiar location names, and then displays those locations on the Places map. If you're using a separate GPS tracking device, the path of your photo journey appears on the map when you import a track log. You can even extract locations from iPhone tracker apps or your iPhone photos.
According to Apple's patent, "in some implementations, the GPS information can be used to generate a track path including multiple points, each representing a location at which GPS coordinates were captured." Apple's Places feature provides you with the ability to get Terrain, Road or Satellite views pinpointed on a map as to where your photos were taken.
Of course if you're not comfortable with Location based services, you could always opt out of them very easily. But for those who like creating maps based on photos that they've taken over time and eventually over a life time, it's a pretty nice feature to have.
Apple credits Nikhil Bhatt and Alexander Wallace as the inventors of patent application 20110109769, originally filed in Q4 2009. (Here's a temporary link to Apple's "Places" patent that will only be good for a day or two.)
Notice: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of patents with associated graphic(s) for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for further details. Patents shouldn't be digested as rumors or fast-tracked according to rumor time tables. Apple patents represent true research that could lead to future products and should be understood in that light. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.