On August 15, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a new and easier way of sharing content objects such as a photo, highlighted text or an embedded video between documents, emails, tweets and more. It will also allow the user to send content to a blog or other social media easily. One of the more interesting aspects of this invention is that Apple will be adding new toolbars to assist users in editing their content before sharing it.
Apple Invents New Ways to Easily Move Content between Documents on iDevices
Apple states in their patent filing that the existing methods for sharing content objects are cumbersome and inefficient, often requiring several steps or resort to obscure menu commands, for example. This is tedious and creates a significant cognitive burden on a user. In addition, existing methods take longer than necessary, thereby wasting energy.
Apple acknowledges that there's a need for electronic devices such as their iPhone and/or iPad to have faster and more efficient methods and interfaces for sharing content objects in a document. The new methods are likely to complement and/or replace conventional methods for sharing content objects in a document.
The new methods and interfaces are designed to reduce the cognitive burden on a user and produce a more efficient human-machine interface.
A New Editing Interface
Apple states that documents accessed by a user may include any number of content objects, such as images, embedded video, and text highlighted by the user. The user may wish to share just the content object, rather than the whole document, with others. Existing methods typically require the user to open an interface for performing the sharing that takes multiple steps, which may not be evident to a user. The embodiments below describe an improved method for sharing content objects in a document.
For a document with a content object, the user may perform a particular user input on the content object such as a "press and hold" input. In response to the particular user input, the content object is visually separated from the document (thus placing the focus on the content object) and icons for initiating user interfaces for sharing the content object are displayed.
In some embodiments, if a user decides to move the content object to another electronic document, instead of sharing the content object with another user, the user interface seamlessly transitions from the interface for sharing the content object with other users to an interface for moving the content object to another document. This method simplifies content object sharing from any document. A related method may also be used to present an editing interface for editing a content object in a document.
Examples of Moving Content Objects
The randomly chosen patent figures noted below illustrate exemplary user interfaces for manipulating content objects in documents in accordance with Apple's invention.
Documents displayed in the examples below may respectively represent a word processing document, a web page, a spreadsheet, a presentation document, an electronic book, an email message, a text message, an instant message, or a text document, for example.
The documents include content object(s) that are displayed on an iPad display for illustrative purposes. Exemplary content objects include, without limitation, a digital image, an inline video, inline audio, text highlighted by a user, a graphic, or a file attachment.
On any Apple iDevice, the user input may include a tap and drag input on the touch-sensitive display instead of a click and drag input using a mouse on a Mac. In response to the detection of the click and drag input, the cursor (#508 – your finger) moves the content object to another document that you've chosen to drop it into as noted in patent FIG. 5B below. The dragging of the content object may be animated.
A New Toolbar
Apple describes a new toolbar that will assist in sharing documents such as email, MMS messages and tweet along with an editing option. Apple later states that there'll be other possible ways of sharing documents beyond those noted above such a posting a message or report to a social network service, a blog, or to a message board, to name just a few examples.
In Apple's patent FIG. 5P noted above, a content object is displayed in an editing mode, as indicated by area 528 which includes one or more icons that correspond to respective editing operations or functionalities that may include a pen/brush functionality for drawing on content object, an eraser functionality, a text functionality for adding text to content objects, a shape functionality for drawing shapes on content objects, a pen/brush thickness functionality, and a pen/brush color functionality but to name a few possibilities.
While Apple acknowledges that a stylus could be more accurate than using a finger for moving objects between documents, they note that Apple devices could translate the rough finger-based input into a precise pointer or cursor position.
Apple credits Chanaka Karunamuni, Laurent Baumann, Julien Robert, Alexandre Carlhian, Alexandre Moha and Philippe Champeaux as the inventors of patent application 20130212470 which was originally filed in Q4 2012.
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