On July 26, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals an exciting new annotation application that's in the works. If you consider that ten extremely detailed applications were published on this one project alone today, I'd have to say that it's likely a priority project. The applications cover new navigation and annotation modes that will assist readers working with electronic documents, digital books, newspapers and magazines. While it would take days to comb through these applications to list all of the coming features, our report focuses on just a few of them including a new annotation toolbar. At the end of the day, it was quite the surprise to find these patent gems and for students and professionals who need to use annotation tools, this is going to be a huge leap forward for the iPad. It's the kind of tool that will help the iPad push further into the enterprise and beyond.
The Problem with Today's Methods of Annotation
The use of touch-sensitive surfaces as input devices for computers and other electronic computing devices has increased significantly in recent years. Exemplary touch-sensitive surfaces include touch pads and touch screen displays. Such surfaces are widely used to manipulate user interface objects on a display.
Exemplary manipulations include navigating through, and annotating an electronic document, such as an electronic book, newspaper, or magazine. A user may need to perform such manipulations in an electronic book or document reader application or in a digital publication application, for example.
But existing methods for navigating and annotating are cumbersome and inefficient. In addition, existing methods take longer than necessary, thereby wasting energy. This latter consideration is particularly important in battery-operated devices.
Accordingly, there is a need for electronic devices with faster, more efficient methods and interfaces for navigating and annotating an electronic document. Such methods and interfaces may complement or replace conventional methods for navigating and annotating an electronic document. Such methods and interfaces reduce the cognitive burden on a user and produce a more efficient human-machine interface. For battery-operated devices, such methods and interfaces conserve power and increase the time between battery charges.
The deficiencies outlined above and other problems associated with user interfaces for electronic devices with touch-sensitive surfaces are reduced or eliminated by the disclosed devices. In some embodiments, the device is a desktop computer. In some embodiments, the device is portable (e.g., a notebook computer, tablet computer, or handheld device).
In some embodiments, the user interacts with the GUI primarily through finger contacts and gestures on the touch-sensitive surface. In some embodiments, the functions may include image editing, drawing, presenting, word processing, website creating, disk authoring, spreadsheet making, game playing, telephoning, video conferencing, e-mailing, instant messaging, workout support, digital photographing, digital videoing, web browsing, digital music playing, and/or digital video playing.
Apple Reveals a Future iPad with a Touch Sensitive Backside
Days before Steve Jobs introduced us to the iPad in January 2010, we posted a report titled "Apple: The Tablet Prophecies" wherein we pointed to an earlier 2006 patent application that first introduced us to the concept of having a touch sensitive backside to a future tablet. In today's patent application, Apple reveals that advanced work in the area of document navigation and advanced annotation is pushing the concept of a backside sensitive tablet forward.
In Apple's patent FIG. 5K shown below we see an illustration of User Interface 500-K which includes electronic document 501-2, with body text 529, displayed on touch-sensitive display 112 of device 100 that includes a touch-sensitive surface on the back side, opposite the front side that has display 112.
Left hand 536-A and right hand 536-B are holding device 100, with the thumbs on the front side and the non-thumb finger digits on the back side (as indicated by the dotted lines indicating the finger digits). In some embodiments, gestures 538 and 540 are each drumming gestures. Such a gesture could call up a split-keyboard, for instance. Sneaky Apple reveals little else as to how they'll develop the backside controls and/or corresponding gestures.
Apple Introduces their Future Annotation Toolbar
In patent FIG. 5D below Apple illustrates their future annotation toolbar. Apple states that in some embodiments, annotation toolbar 516 is displayed on the display when the device is in annotation mode. Annotation toolbar 516 wouldn't be displayed if the page was in navigation mode where the focus is on efficient navigation (e.g., navigating between pages and between chapters, scrolling, etc.); simple gestures are directed to navigation operations, and more complex gestures (e.g., composite gestures with multiple components, such as a tap plus a swipe) are directed to other operations or features (e.g., annotation).
When electronic document is displayed in annotation mode, the focus is on efficient annotation (e.g., commenting, highlighting, bookmarking, etc.).
Apple Introduces their Future "Call Out" Annotation Feature
Apple's patent FIG. 5N illustrates that, in some embodiments, in response to detecting the finger contact 527, a callout 526-1 is displayed on the touch screen. As illustrated, the callout 526-1 includes a thumbnail of a corresponding page. For example, the callout 526-1 includes main text from a corresponding page, a section title 534, a note icon 528-1, highlighting of a text 528-2, and an image 530-1. Apple also illustrates elsewhere that a Call Out could contain multiple references, images and links.
Apple's patent applications were originally filed in Q1 2011 and published today by the US Patent Office. Some of the inventors listed on these patents include Senior Software Engineer Don Beaver and Jay Capela who worked on Apple's resizing iOS user interface content. Legally, Apple doesn't have to be listed on patent applications even if their employees file the patent. Apple usually does this when a project is to be kept under the radar. Sometimes we're lucky in spotting these gems – and today just happens to be one of those days. To get a taste of just how in depth Apple's patents are on annotation and navigation, see patent application 20120188174.
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