On December 11, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals Apple's new iOS 8 Maps App Night Mode coming to CarPlay and working in sync with special in-vehicle conditions. On one hand this is a patent fulfilled with night mode for maps debuting with iOS 8. Yet on the other hand it is a patent application that foretells of the Maps App night mode working differently with vehicles using CarPlay.
Apple's Patent Background
Mobile devices with map and/or navigation applications display map and navigation data with certain sets of colors and textures. That is, the applications provide a simplified view of an area, with particular colors and textures used to depict each type of item (e.g., buildings, roads, parks, etc.). The applications use different colors and textures to depict buildings than to depict roads. The colors and textures of roads and buildings are different from the colors and textures of parks, vacant spaces, etc. These colors and settings are generally selected in order to make the map and/or navigation data easy to read at a glance.
However, a set of colors and textures that are easy to understand under one set of conditions (e.g., bright colors are easily seen in daylight) may not be easy to understand under other conditions (e.g., bright colors may be blinding at night).
Apple Maps: Night Mode
Apple's invention generally covers iOS 8's Map App Night Mode feature. Of course it does go one step further in revealing that it's likely going to be a part of Carplay. The invention covers Apple's Map App that could operate differently depending on the time of day and it could also operate in different modes.
The applications of some embodiments provide a day mode and a night mode. In some embodiments, the application uses the day mode as a default and activates the night mode when the time is after sunset at the location of the device. Some embodiments activate night mode when multiple conditions are satisfied. For example, when (1) the time is after sunset at the location of the device and/or (2) the ambient light level is below a threshold brightness.
The map/navigation applications of some embodiments provide multiple aspects of a night mode. For example, in some embodiments one aspect of a night mode is a change of styles (e.g., textures and/or colors) of items in the map (e.g., non-street areas, streets, buildings, and parks) as compared to the styles used in a day mode. In some embodiments, the application provides different style templates for different modes (e.g., for night mode and day mode).
The various style templates give the map an appearance better suited to low or high light levels. The applications of some embodiments animate a change from one style template to another style template (e.g., by interpolating the style templates and applying the interpolated values to the map and/or navigation instructions being displayed at the time).
In some embodiments, the map/navigation application displays different point of interest identifiers (sometimes called "location identifiers") when operating in night mode and day mode (e.g., in day mode the map/navigation application displays identifiers indicating schools and parks while in night mode the map/navigation application displays identifiers indicating bars and night clubs). In some such embodiments, the map application displays some identifiers in both day mode and night mode (e.g., restaurants).
In some embodiments, different sets of conditions trigger different aspects of night mode. For example, different styles could be triggered by the combination of time (e.g., after sunset or after 5 PM, etc.) and low ambient light levels while different point of interest identifiers could be triggered by time (e.g., after sunset or after 6 PM, etc.).
The map/navigation applications of some embodiments provide search functions. In some embodiments, the results of a search depend on what mode the application is in when the application performs a search. For example, the search could prioritize schools and parks during the day and prioritize restaurants at night. In some embodiments, the same locations prioritized for search results in a particular mode are the locations which the application prefers to display in that mode.
Night Mode for CarPlay
The map/navigation applications of some embodiments are able to interface with internal systems of a car or other vehicle. In some embodiments, when the application interfaces with a vehicle, the internal systems of the vehicle determine whether to use night mode or day mode. For example, the vehicle may command the application to enter night mode any time the vehicle headlights are on, any time the vehicle's sensors determine that the ambient light level is below a threshold, or any time either or both of those conditions are satisfied.
In some such embodiments, the determination by the vehicle's internal systems overrides any contrary determination that would be reached by the device in the absence of the interface. In some embodiments, the application displays maps and/or navigation instructions on a display of the vehicle instead of, or in addition to, displaying the maps and/or navigation instructions on a display of the device.
Some embodiments provide a night mode and a day mode in applications other than a map/navigation application. For example, some embodiments provide a night mode and a day mode in a search engine, such that the order of the results is different at night than during the day. Some embodiments provide a night mode and a day mode in an application launching graphical user interface (GUI). In some embodiments, the GUI displays the application launching icons in a different order in night mode than in day mode.
Apple's patent FIG. 8 noted below illustrates the determination of day mode versus night mode made by a car external light sensor during the day and night.
Apple's patent FIG. 10 noted below illustrates a car and a navigation application on a device independently determining whether to use night mode or day mode.
Apple's patent FIG. 13 noted below illustrates an animated change from day mode to night mode.
Apple credits Cedric Bray, Christopher Moore, Patrick Piemonte, Emanuele Vulcano, Marcel van OS, Billy Chen, Seejo Pylappan, Justin O'Beirne as the inventors of patent application 20140365965 which was originally filed in Q4 2013. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of certain aspects of Apple's Maps App relating to CarPlay coming to market is unknown at this time.
Apple's patent graphics don't provide us with color and so it's hard to visualize the dramatic difference Night Mode can bring to the Maps App. Below is a screenshot from AppRadioWorld that illustrates just how nice night mode is.
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