Patently Apple has been following Apple's patent applications over the years regarding future interfaces and three dimensional visions, and today we present you with a series of patent applications from Apple regarding Safari 3D. The 3D version of Safari will allow users to stack bookmarks, emails, docs and apps in a very interesting 3D manner. While we're definitely a few years away from shifting to 3D, it's still interesting to read up on the evolutionary thinking behind this shift from the minds of Apple's engineers.
Apple's Patent Background
A modern computing device, such as a personal computer, a smart phone, a game device, a handheld computer, a GPS device, and so on, includes a software operating system that allows the computer device to be controlled either directly by the user or by one or more application programs executing within the operating system.
Many operating systems and software applications employ graphical user interfaces (GUIs) to present information to users and to receive user input for controlling the behavior and functionalities of the underlying computing devices and/or application programs. A typical two-dimensional GUI of an operating system could be described as a "desktop" metaphor. Many software applications executing in the operating system could provide graphical objects, so-called "windows," to present information content and various input control elements. Visually, a two-dimensional desktop of an operating system provides a background plane on which application windows provided by active software applications can be displayed.
Operating systems of the computing devices could often support multiple active applications at the same time, and each of the active applications can have multiple open windows concurrently presented on the desktop. Various schemes for managing the presentation and layout of open windows on the desktop have been proposed to improve the organization and navigation of the open windows.
Apple's Evolutionary Moves towards Safari 3D GUI
Apple's invention generally relates to presentation and management of Desktop GUIs and opening windows on the desktop GUIs. Most of the discussion supports a 3D version of Safari.
In general, one innovative aspect of the subject matter described in Apple's patent application could be embodied in methods that include the actions of: grouping a plurality of open windows into one or more groups based on respective values of a grouping property associated with the plurality of open windows, each group of open windows sharing a common value for the grouping property; and causing each group of open windows to be presented in a respective stack, where the respective stack includes representations of the open windows in the group and permits user browsing through the representations.
In some implementations, the method further includes the actions of: representing the plurality of open windows in a two-dimensional (2D) desktop environment; and while the open windows are presented in the 2D desktop environment, detecting an input for browsing the plurality of open windows, where the groups of open windows are presented in the groups' respective stacks in response to the detecting, and the respective stacks are presented in a three-dimensional (3D) desktop environment.
Rotating Titles of URLs, Emails, Documents, Apps
As shown in Apple's patent FIG. 1B below, the currently selected stack is shown to be stack 138, and the current active window in the desktop is the window 138a shown in the frontal view. When a pointing device is hovered over the lower portion of the stack 138, the window 138a is rotated about an axis parallel to the group plane and falls back into a horizontal position and presented in a side view. The next window 138b below the window 138 in turn could be rotated about an axis parallel to the ground plane into an upright position and presented in the frontal view. Now, the window 138b becomes the front window of the stack 138 and the current active window of the desktop.
If the pointing device continues to hover over the same portion of the stack 138, the window 138b will be rotated into a horizontal position and presented in the side view again, while the next window 138c below the window 138b could be rotated into the upright position and presented in the frontal view. If the pointing device is now hovered over an upper portion of the stack 138, the open windows in the stack will be cycled through and presented in the frontal view one by one in an order going up the stack.
Apple states that the user will also be able to scroll the content of the webpage in the window 138b, click on links in the webpage, play a video in the embedded video player, and so on, in the window 138b.
In addition, the user may use the application menu bar 144 displayed in the designated menu location of the 3D desktop to locate previously visited webpages, go to a bookmarked webpage, to view the source code of the webpage, to view other open windows of the web browser application, and so on, by selecting the appropriate menu items in the application menu bar 144.
In some implementations, an icon of the application program providing the open windows in each 3D browsable stack could be used as the graphical representation indicative of the value of the grouping property (e.g., the application type). For example, as shown in FIG. 1B, icon 137 is used to represent the email application, icon 139 is used to represent the web browser application, and icon 141 is used to represent the word processing application. In some implementations, the application icon could be enlarged so that it is prominent and easy to see on the desktop.
Apple's Safari 3D browsing invention is extremely wordy and in order to really understand it all, you have to read it all. For those wishing to review this patent in full could do so by visiting patent application 20120131496. Additionally, we've provided you with Apple's patent abstracts and convenient links to the other two patents in this series regarding Safari 3D.
Patent Two: Browsing and Interacting with Open Windows
Apple's Patent Abstract: Methods, systems, and computer-readable media for managing open windows in a desktop GUI are disclosed. In various implementations, within a three-dimensional desktop, the open windows can be displayed in a three-dimensional browsable parade. As the user browses through the open windows in the browsable parade, the open window passing through a designated primary location of the three-dimensional desktop becomes the current active window of the desktop. An application menu bar of the current active window can be displayed on the three-dimensional desktop. The application menu bar and the active window together provide the full range of interactive capabilities that the native application environment of the open window would allow, even though the open window is currently displayed within the browsable parade. For more, see patent application 20120131495.
Part Three: Presenting and Browsing Items in a Tilted 3D Space
Apple's Patent Abstract: Methods, systems, and computer-readable media for presenting and browsing items in a tilted 3D space are disclosed. In tilted viewing mode, groups of items from several consecutive levels of a hierarchy can be presented in respective browsable parades shown at different depths into a viewable region of the tilted 3D space. The user can browse laterally across each browsable parade, and browse up and down the hierarchy within the tilted 3D space. With the combination of browsing laterally across the parades presented in the viewable region of the tilted 3D space and browsing up and down the hierarchy along the depth dimension of the 3D space, the user can navigate the entirety of the hierarchy in the tilted 3D space. For more information, see patent application 20120127156.
Apple's patent FIG. 1C illustrates an exemplary 3D space 142 showing a browsable parade of items in a first viewing mode. In the first viewing mode, a collection of child items that have the same parent item are presented in a 3D browsable parade 144 in the 3D space 142 depicted in the display 104.
In some implementations, the 3D browsable parade is associated with a series of locations along a lateral dimension (e.g., in the horizontal direction across the display screen) across the 3D space. The 3D browsable parade could advance through the series of locations under the user's direction.
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Patently Apple presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. Revelations found in patent applications shouldn't be interpreted as rumor or fast-tracked according to rumor timetables. Apple's patent applications have provided the Mac community with a clear heads-up on some of Apple's greatest product trends including the iPod, iPhone, iPad, iOS cameras, LED displays, iCloud services for iTunes and more. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
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