Looking beyond OS X Mountain Lion, Apple introduces us to their vision of a future 3D Multi-Level Dock that could take on the appearance of glass shelving or a bookshelf like iBooks. The multi-level dock will allow users to easily customize, search and/or label levels so as to better organize and quickly access their files, photos and applications. It sounds like it could be a great organizational advancement for a future desktop.
Apple's Patent Background
Computing devices often have many software applications available to users. A user of a computing device could invoke applications in a variety of ways. Names of applications available on a computing device could be presented as a textual list and a user could select a name in the list to invoke an application. Selectable icons representing available applications could be displayed on user interfaces of the computing device and a user can select an icon to invoke an application on the computing device. Users sometimes have to navigate through several layers of menus or other interfaces to access applications on a computing device which is often inefficient and inconvenient.
Apple's Optional 3D Multi-Level Dock for OS X
Apple's invention generally relates to a three-dimensional multi-level dock. The multi-level dock could be animated to appear to slide into view on a graphical user interface in response to user input. The levels of the multi-level dock could be configured to display selectable graphical objects representing applications available on a computing device. A user will be able to select a graphical object to invoke a corresponding application. The three-dimensional multi-level dock could be animated to slide out of view on the graphical user interface in response to the selection of an application object or in response to other user input.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 shown above illustrates an example options interface for the three-dimensional animation. In some implementations, graphical element 302 could be selected to display an options interface for multi-level dock 202.
In some implementations, level 312 could display graphical elements 306, 308 and/or 310 respectively representing "sort, search and levels" at the bottom of the dock to specify options for the multi-level dock.
According to Apple, display objects on the dock could be an application or file and sorted by name. For example, files could be displayed in top-down, left-to-right alphabetical order in the multi-level dock. Objects could be sorted alphabetically or reverse alphabetically by name. Display objects could be sorted by frequency of use. For example, usage statistics could be collected on display objects, corresponding applications and/or corresponding files and display objects could be sorted based on the collected usage statistics.
In some implementations, a user could manually sort or arrange the display objects presented in multi-level dock 202. For example, a user can select, drag and drop display objects into positions in the multi-level dock
Apple states that in some implementations, the user will be able to select a search button (# 308) to search for display objects, files or apps on the computing device. For example, a computing device could have large numbers of applications and/or files such that the multi-level dock may not have enough space to present them all. The quick search button will allow the user to enter a name of keyword to search for items not found on the 3D dock
Each level will be able to an be configured to display pictures, movies, text documents, or any other file type.
Apple states that in some implementations, a name associated with a category or classification could be specified by level labeling so that a user could label levels such as "applications," "pictures," "movies," for easy identification and access.
Apple states that if there are more display objects for a category than a single level, the level will be able to be configured to allow horizontal or vertical scrolling through all of the display icons available on the computing device for the category represented by the level.
According to Apple, the three dimensional multi-level dock can appear as a three-dimensional bookcase or a three-dimensional drawer for presenting display objects – much like the way iBooks is presented today on iDevices.
Apple's patent application was filed by Laurent Baumann under serial number 111923 in May 2011. Apple's Related Inventions could be found in these two reports: 1. Apple Reveals Extraordinary Multifunctional 3D Widgets, and 2. Apple Reveals New Multi-Dimensional GUI.
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Sites Covering our Original Report
TechCrunch, MacTechNews Germany, Applesfera Spanish, Macerkopf Germany, Gizmodo UK, Twitter, Facebook, MacSurfer, Accelerate Your Mac, Apple Investor News, Google Reader, Macnews, iPhone World Canada, and more.