Today a user is able to assign a custom ringtone to a list of various contacts found in their address book. In fact, custom ringtones can apply to SMS/MMS messages, email and calendar events to audibly inform the user of an underlying notification or alert. Today, a new patent application from Apple published by the US Patent Office reveals that Apple is working on advancing the notification system so that users will be able to assign custom vibration patterns to various notification events such as incoming calls, emails and so forth by using a new user interface associated with custom haptics. Uniquely, users will also be able to purchase custom vibration patterns from developers and/or web services at Apple's App Store. In the future, you're likely to see services like Twitter, Facebook and your favorite news sites delivering unique iDevice vibration patterns to alert you of new updates and/or breaking news reports. In-part, the new feature was made available with iOS 6.
Creating Custom Notification Vibrations for your iPhone
According to Apple, their patent FIGS. 2a and 2b noted below are exemplary user interfaces for creating a custom vibration pattern on an iPhone. In patent FIG. 2a we're able to see an application running on the iPhone that will prompt a user to physically tap the display screen of the mobile device to begin a vibration pattern recording phase. Upon detecting a tap, or tap-down event, and beginning the recording phase, the user may physically tap the screen in a series of taps to create vibration segments for a corresponding vibration pattern.
Each tap-down event may correspond to an individual vibration segment and vary in duration and intensity. In patent FIG. 2b, in response to detecting the tap-down event, the iPhone may provide visual feedback on its display using haptic feedback. For example, progress view bar 214 can represent a vibration pattern over time and vibration segment 226 corresponding to tap-down event can be used to indicate a shorter vibration in the vibration pattern.
The iPhone's display could provide a noted ripple effect (#222) in response to detecting the tap-down event. In some implementations, the ripple effect has the visual effect of emanating from the origin of the tap-down event and increases in intensity proportionally to the duration and/or force of the tap-down event. The ripple effect may vary in intensity and color corresponding to the force and duration of the tap-down event. At any time during the recording of a vibration pattern, a user may select the stop button to end the recording phase.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 is an exemplary user interface for naming and saving a custom vibration pattern. For example, a user may enter a name for a custom vibration pattern in text box 402, e.g., "Test", using the iPhone's keyboard and then save the name by clicking save button.
Apple's patent FIG. 5 is an exemplary user interface for assigning a vibration pattern to a notification event. For example, the custom vibration pattern "Test" may be selected in vibration selection 508 to correspond to the contact "John" in 502. When a mobile device detects that John is calling by detecting the number in mobile number box 504 is calling, the iPhone can actuate haptic feedback in accordance with vibration pattern "Test" and/or play audible sounds in accordance with ringtone "Default" in box 506.
Vibration Pattern Delivery Services
According to Apple, future iDevices such as an iPhone or iPad will be able to communicate with one or more services (#730) over the one or more wired and/or wireless networks. For example, one or more vibration pattern delivery services will be able to be used to deliver one or more vibration patterns. In some implementations, a vibration pattern delivery service may be a virtual store to buy and download vibration patterns.
A vibration pattern delivery service may also be part of a push notification delivery service. For example, a vibration pattern associated with a particular push notification may be pushed to a mobile device to inform a user of the mobile device of the particular notification, e.g., a distinctive vibration pattern may be associated with a team scoring in a sports game, when the team scores, the distinct vibration pattern can be pushed to the mobile device to notify the user of the mobile device of the score.
Other kinds of services will be able to take advantage of Apple's new vibration service, such as Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds, web sites, blogs, social networking sites and more.
Apple Introduced the Basics of this System in iOS 6
You can create a custom vibration today if you have an iPhone with iOS 6. Simply go to "Setting" and then to "Sounds." At that point, click on any of the options such as "New Mail" and once on the new screen you'll see "Vibration" at the top. Click on that to reach the user interfaces noted above to set a new custom vibration.
As you could see in the screenshot, the number of taps were recorded in dots on the white record bar above Play. Each dot represents the number of times that I tapped the screen to create my custom vibratioin. The second screen is the playback of the custom vibration that I just created. On this screen you could see the vibration effect ripples as noted in the patent.
What I've yet to see are the customized vibrations being available at the App Store. If you've seen them, send me an email.
Apple's credits Christopher Fleizach, Eric Seymour and Joel Lopes Da Silva as the inventors of this patent application which was filed under serial number 153331 in Q2 2011. Chalk it up as another patent fulfilled.
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