On June 06, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office revealed a series of new Apple inventions that primarily relate to new software features that could eventually assist enterprise users with presentations and the ability to eliminate common problems portable devices have connecting with office printers.
Number One: New App that could Provide Enhanced Security or Privacy Modes
The first new enterprise related patent published today relates to techniques for obscuring graphical output from an electronic device on a remote display which could be handy in presentations.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 shown below illustrates an exemplary interaction between an electronic device like an iPad (#302) and a remote display (#304). The output on the remote display is substantially the same as the graphical output on the iPad.
To generate obscured graphical output 312-316, an application on the iPad may generate a set of filtering parameters associated with user-interface elements 306-310. Each filtering parameter may identify a user-interface element (e.g., 306-310) and/or region of graphical output to be obscured. As a result, the application may generate three filtering parameters that flag user-interface elements 306-310 for filtering and/or obscuring.
The application may also include an obscuring mode for each filtering parameter that indicates the method by which the corresponding user-interface element 306-310 is to be obscured. For example, the application may specify the obscuring of user-interface elements on the remote display through the freezing of the graphical output, blurring of the subset of the graphical output corresponding to user-interface the noted elements, omitting of the subset of the graphical output, and/or the generation of a graphical overlay over the subset of the graphical output.
The application may then transmit the graphical output and filtering parameters to the remote display where the filtering parameters are used by the remote display to obscure user-interface elements 306-310 using obscured graphical output 312-316. For example, the remote display may generate obscured graphical output 312-316 by freezing, blurring, omitting, and/or generating graphical overlays over user-interface elements 306-310 based on the filtering parameters.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 shows another exemplary interaction between an iPad and a remote display. Apple states that user input (#406) on the iPad may be used to generate a region of interest 410 and a region of obscured graphical output 408 on the remote display. The user input may be associated with a touch-based gesture such as a tracing gesture, a pinching gesture, and/or a tapping gesture on a touch screen of the iPad. For example, a user may draw a circle corresponding to user input 406 on the touch screen to select, highlight, and/or emphasize the portion of the graphical output within the circle (e.g., "dolor") and the other information around it could be blurred out to provide emphasis to the content in the circle.
There's a lot more to Apple's invention and for those interested in this feature should check out the finer details under patent application 20130141471. Apple credits James Batson, Bob Bradley and Jonathan Bennett as the inventors of this invention which was originally filed in June 2012 and published today by USPTO.
Number Two: 3 Inventions relating to iDevices & Enterprise Printers
The second new enterprise related invention is really a set of three inventions published today relating specifically to printers. Apple notes that printers are often a problem for computer users. When a computer user initially installs a printer, the cabling and power cords are typically relatively straightforward to hook up. However, the user also has to install a printer-specific driver, which involves loading the driver from a disk and/or navigating to a website and downloading the driver. Even if the printer driver is already loaded into the computer system, the user may have to load and install an update for the driver from the printer manufacturer's website. Such installation operations are time-consuming and commonly require the user to find and enter a long software-license key.
Printers pose an even bigger problem for users of portable electronic devices, such as laptop computers, tablet computers, portable media players, or smartphones. Such portable electronic devices are seldom configured with the requisite printer driver software. In addition, installing the appropriate printer driver can be bothersome, especially if the user of the portable electronic device only intends to use the nearby printer once or twice. Portable electronic devices may also have limited storage space, which makes it impractical for them to store a large number of printer drivers.
Apple's latest inventions cover a system that facilitates printing from a portable electronic device to a nearby printer without the above-described problems.
Apple's first invention relates to techniques for authenticating a printer prior to pairing the printer with a portable electronic device and using the printer to perform a print job for the portable electronic devices.
Apple's second invention relates to techniques for using peer-to-peer connections and/or structured networks to facilitate communication between portable electronic devices and printers.
Apple's third and last invention relates to techniques for discovering and selecting printers for print jobs prior to establishing direct connections with the printers.
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