On July 23, 2015, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals new image editing tools in the works that could be a part of a new image editing app or that could be used with future versions of apps like Photoshop and others. Apple shows that users will be able to easily crop and straighten images and much, much more. Apple also shows us that there will be multiple methods of achieving various effects. If you dabble in graphics at all, this invention could be of interest to you.
Apple's Patent Background
Digital graphic design and image editing applications (hereafter collectively referred to as image editing applications) provide graphical designers, media artists, and other users with the necessary tools to view and edit an image. Examples of such applications are Picasa, which is provided by Google, Photoshop, which is provided by Adobe, Express Media, which is provided by Microsoft, etc. These applications give users the ability to edit images in a variety of manners.
With the proliferation of mobile devices such as tablet computers and smartphones, the utility of these applications has expanded to these devices. However, many image editing applications are adapted for stationary devices like desktops and servers and do not provide with the users with some of the convenient features that could be enjoyed at the mobile devices.
Apple Invents New Image Editing Tools for iPad
Apple's invention relates to providing an image editing application with a series of tools that advance the user's ability to work better on a tablet. Apple notes one being a cropping and straightening tool to edit an image. The cropping and straightening tool provides a user with a rotatable user interface (UI) item. The user can rotate this rotatable UI item to a particular direction (clockwise or counterclockwise) and the tool rotates a displayed image to the particular direction accordingly. In this manner, the user can straighten the displayed image by rotating the rotatable UI item.
As the rotatable UI item is rotated, the image editing application in some embodiments plays sound to provide an audible indication that indicates the rotatable UI item is being rotated. The sound that the image editing application in some embodiments plays back is sound that a mechanical dial makes when the mechanical dial is rotated.
The rotatable UI item in some embodiments also includes a set of markings on the rotatable UI item. The markings are for indicating the amount of rotation that the rotatable UI item has been rotated. In some embodiment, a marking pointed by a stationary knob indicates the amount of rotation by which the rotatable UI item has been rotated.
In some embodiments, the image editing application zooms and/or crops the image as the image is getting rotated with respect to the edges of the display area in order to display as much portion of the image as possible while avoid displaying an area outside the image in the display area. In some cases, the image editing application does not zoom as the display image is rotated when the display area has been zoomed already. In these cases, the area outside the image will be displayed in the displayed area.
The cropping and straightening tool allows the user to rotate the rotatable UI item in several different ways. The user can rotate the user interface item by touching and dragging the rotatable UI item. The tool in some embodiments also allows the user to rotate the rotatable UI item by moving the device on which the image editing application is executing. In these embodiments, the device includes a component that is capable of detecting and measuring the movement of the device. The image editing application receives an orientation value from the component and records the value before the device is moved. The image editing application keeps receiving the orientation values from the component while the device is being moved. The image editing application computes the amount by which to rotate the rotatable UI item based on the difference between the recorded orientation value and the latest orientation value.
The user can also rotate the rotatable UI item by performing a rotational multi-touch gesture on the displayed image. When the user makes a rotational multi-touch gesture that is over a threshold amount of rotation, the cropping and straightening tool rotates the rotatable UI item and the displayed image based on the rotational multi-touch gesture.
In some embodiments, the cropping and straightening tool additionally provides a set of UI items in addition to the rotatable UI item. In some embodiments, the set of UI items are for using a horizon line to rotate the rotatable UI item and straighten the displayed image. In these embodiments, the cropping and straightening tool detects the horizon line of the image and displays the horizon line in the image. The tool rotates the rotatable UI item and straightens the image by leveling the horizon line and the image in response to receiving a selection of one UI item in the set of UI items. The tool removes the horizon line and the set of UI items without rotating the rotatable UI item or straightening the image in response to receiving a selection of another UI item in the set of UI items.
Some embodiments provide an image editing application with an effect tool for applying effects to a selected area of a displayed image. The effect tool in some embodiments allows the user to select an area of the image to which to apply effects by rubbing the image with a finger or an equivalent input apparatus. For some effects, the effect tool applies an effect to a selected area of the image regardless of the number of times the area of the image was rubbed. Such effects include a blemish removal effect and a red eye removal effect. For some other effects, the effect tool incrementally applies an effect to a selected area based on the number of times that the user has rubbed the area of the image. Such effects include saturation, de-saturation, lightening, darkening, sharpening, softening, etc.
A tilt-shift tool is a visible on-image tool. The tilt-shift tool in some embodiments includes two visible horizontal lines overlaid on the image. The tilt-shift tool blurs the areas of the image that are above the upper horizontal line and below the lower horizontal line. The tilt-shift tool allows the user to move both horizontal lines together by touching and dragging a space between the two horizontal lines. The tilt-shift tool allows the user to adjust the distance between the two horizontal lines by dragging one or both lines vertically.
A vignette tool is an invisible on-image tool of the image editing application. In some embodiments, the vignette tool darkens the pixels of the image based on the distance by which each pixel of the image is away from the location of an image that is touched. In some such embodiments, the vignette tool uses a sigmoid function to apply a darkening effect. With a sigmoid function, the vignette tool applies little or no darkening effect to the pixels of the image within a first distance from the location and applies most darkening effect to the pixels of the image away from the location by a second distance. The vignette tool gradually applies a darkening effect to pixels between the first and second distances away from the location. Apple's patent FIG. 3 relates to the vignette tool.
Apple's patent FIG. 12 conceptually illustrates straightening an image by performing a multi-touch gesture.
Apple's patent FIG. 35 conceptually illustrates an architecture of an on-image gradient effect tool that applies a particular gradient effect to a portion of image that is selected by the user; FIG. 38 conceptually illustrates the architecture of an on-image tilt-shift effect tool.
There are 50 patent figures in total illustrating many features including zooming in/out, removing red eye and many more that you could view here (PDF)
Apple credits Randy Ubillos, Timothy Cherna and Ralf Brunner as the inventors of patent application 20150205502 which was filed in Q1 2015. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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