Apple: The Tablet Prophecies
Apple: The Tablet Prophecies – Part 2

Apple Wins Key iPhone Interface & Touch Patents


The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 10 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. The notables within this group include one relating Apple's touch technology in respect to a soft key interaction indicator, another relating to an SATA storage device, yet another relating to everything you wanted to know about assembling an iPod and finally, a granted patent for the iPhone's Account Information Display which notes Steve Jobs as one of the inventors.


Granted Touch Patent: Soft Key Interaction Indicator


Apple's patent generally relates to user interfaces that employ touch-sensitive displays. More particularly, the disclosed embodiments relate to changing the optical intensity of the periphery of a soft key in response to interaction with the soft key. According to the patent, the invention applies to Apple's touch screen based media players and a tablet.   


Apple's patent FIG. 1, presented above as our lead-in graphic, illustrates a block diagram of a portable electronic device which includes an Optical Intensity Module. Patent FIG. 2 illustrates a touch screen displaying one or more soft keys.


Patent Background  


Touch-sensitive displays (also known as "touch screens" or "touchscreens") are well known in the art. Touch screens are used in many electronic devices to display graphics and text, and to provide an interface through which a user may interact with the devices. For example, touch screens may receive user actions or behaviors, including user attempts to access a device's features or tools. In particular, touch screens are designed to detect and respond to contact on the touch screen and movement of the point of contact on the touch screen. A device may display one or more soft keys, menus and/or other user-interface objects on the touch screen. A user may interact with the device by contacting the touch screen at locations corresponding to the user-interface objects with which he or she wishes to interact.


One challenge with touch screens is to provide sensory feedback to a user such that the user has the perception that he or she is actively interacting with a user-interface object, such as a soft key. In devices with physical buttons, the user gets a tactile sensation from pushing a physical button. However, sensory feedback that is suitable for physical buttons may not be suitable for soft keys on touch screens. The user may not perceive a tactile sensation with a soft key since the touch screen on which the soft key is displayed is often flat.


Accordingly, there is a need for improved techniques for providing users with an indication of interaction with soft keys.


Patent Summary  


An indication of interaction with a device including a touch-sensitive display is provided. A soft key is displayed on the touch-sensitive display. Contact with the touch-sensitive display corresponding to interaction with the soft key is determined. An optical intensity of a periphery of the soft key is changed in response to detecting the contact.


The optical intensity may be changed smoothly. In some embodiments, smoothly may include changing the optical intensity according to a periodic function. The periodic function may correspond to increasing and decreasing the optical intensity.


The periphery of the soft key may include a band or annular region surrounding the soft key. In some embodiments, a release of the contact is determined and the optical intensity is smoothly decreased.


Apple credits Bas Ording, Imran Chaudhri, Marcel Van Os, Stephen Lemay, Freddy Anzures, Greg Christie and Scott Forstall as the inventors of granted patent 7,649,526, originally filed in Q4 2005.


Granted Patent: Apple's iPhone Account Information Display


In this granted patent that credits Steve Jobs as one of the inventors, we see a portable communication device that includes a display and a processor coupled to the display. The processor is configured to automatically and repeatedly present an updated account usage metric for an account associated with usage of the portable communication device. In some embodiments, the presented account usage metric is an account balance associated with usage of the portable communication device, and the processor automatically and repeatedly presents an updated account balance on the display.




Apple's patent FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of an iPhone displaying one or more account balances. Patent FIGS. 2A, 2B, 2C and 2D are illustrations of embodiments of meters for displaying account balances.


Apple credits Steven P. Jobs, Freddy Allen Anzures, Bas Ording, Imran Chaudhri, Scott Forstall, Greg Christie and Stephen Lemay as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,650,137 titled Account Information Display for Portable Communication Device, originally filed in Q4 2005. For more information, view this temporary link.


Granted Patent: Handheld Computing Device


Apple's invention relates generally to enclosures of portable computing devices and methods of assembling portable computing devices. The noted design illustrated in Apple's FIG. 3A below, is that of an assembled first generation iPod nano.




If you're interested in knowing how Apple's iPod is assembled, then view this patent's temporary link. Apple credits Stephen Zadesky and Stephen Lynch as the inventors of this granted patent 7,649,744.


Granted Patent: System and Method for a Host to Access an Internal SATA Storage Device within an Accessible Host using an External Serial ATA Connection


Patent Background


Storage devices, such as hard disk drives and optical drives, are widely used to provide mass storage for various computing applications. Computers communicate with the storage devices using one of several interfaces. The Universal Serial Bus (USB), Small Computer Systems Interface (SCSI), Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) 1394, Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (Serial ATA or SATA), and External Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (eSATA), are examples of such interfaces.


The SATA interface was developed by the Serial ATA International Organization, a consortium of computer and mass storage device manufacturers that defines and adopts specifications for the Serial ATA Interface. The Serial ATA specification is entitled "Serial ATA International Organization: Serial ATA", and is referred to herein as the SATA specification. Revision 2.5 of the SATA specification was publicly released on Oct. 27, 2005.


The eSATA interface is described in the SATA specification as a point-to-point connection between a host (e.g., computer) and a storage device external to the host. FIG. 1 is a block diagram of an eSATA system according to the prior art. System 100 includes external storage device 102, host 104, and internal storage device 106 within host 104. External storage device 102 connects to host 104 using eSATA connectors 108, 110 and eSATA cable 112. Host 104 uses cable 112 to transfer data to and from external storage device 102. The SATA specification, however, does not define a connection that allows another host to access host 104 in order to read data from, or write data to, internal storage device 106.


Patent Summary


In accordance with the invention, a system and method for a host to access an internal SATA storage device within an accessible host using an external serial ATA connection are provided. An accessible host includes one or more internal SATA storage devices, an external SATA connector, an internal SATA port controller, an external SATA port controller, and a switching mechanism. The switching mechanism allows the accessible host to access an external storage device when the switching mechanism is in a first configuration. When the switching mechanism is in a second configuration, a host is able to access one or more internal SATA storage devices within the accessible host.


When the accessible host includes one internal SATA storage device, the external SATA connector is implemented as an external single lane SATA connector in an embodiment in accordance with the invention. When the accessible host includes two or more internal SATA storage devices, the external SATA connector may be implemented as an external single lane SATA connector or as a multi-lane SATA connector. In one embodiment in accordance with the invention, a port selector is connected to each internal SATA storage device and a port multiplier is connected between the port selectors and the switching mechanism when the external SATA connector is an external single lane SATA connector. When the external SATA connector is an external multi-lane connector, a port selector is connected between a respective internal SATA storage device and the switching mechanism in another embodiment in accordance with the invention.



Apple's patent FIG. 4 is a functional diagram of a first accessible host. Switching mechanism 406 includes two electronic switches 406A, 406B in an embodiment in accordance with the invention. Mode selector 408 sets switches 406A, 406B such that host 204 enters either the host mode or the device mode in the embodiments shown in FIG. 4 and FIG. 5. Mode selector 408 is implemented as a processor running firmware designed to determine the proper mode and set the switching mechanisms accordingly in an embodiment in accordance with the invention.


Apple credits Lawrence S. Barras as the sole inventor of granted patent 7,650,447, originally filed in Q1 2007.


Design Wins Today


The first design win today is for Apple's first generation iPod nano D608, 342. The original filing is shown to have been made in January 2004 which dates it back to the first generation iPod nano. Why Apple had to re-file for this again in 2009 isn't explained. For more information, view this temporary link. Apple second design win is for a dock insert under D608, 352. Apple's third design win of the day is for the iPhone's "My Info" page under D608, 366 as shown below in black and white. The design is credited to Mike Matas. For more information, view this temporary link 


IPhone - My Info Interface 

Notice: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of patents with associated graphic(s) for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application and/or Granted Patent is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application and/or Issued Patent should be read in its entirety for further details. For additional information on any granted patent noted above, simply feed the individual patent number(s) into this search engine.


Please note that any of the temporary links presented in today's report are in fact temporary and may redirect you to unrelated patents in the future. In such cases refer back to the search engine instructions above.


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