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Apple Advances their Work on bringing Radial Menus to future iDevices and Macs



Patently Apple first reported on a radial menu patent back in 2012 when Apple was granted their first patent. It was filed in 2008, five years prior to Samsung introducing "Air Commands" at an event on September 4, 2013 for their Galaxy Note. Since then Patently Apple has posted several other patent reports on this possible future feature for both iOS and macOS (one, two and three). Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that's titled "Device, Method, and Graphical User Interface for a Radial Menu System." The invention discusses how a user will be able to rearrange the various menu options of the radial menu to accommodate a user's workflow so as to save on the battery life of mobile devices.  


Patent Background


Applications executed by electronic devices often provide menus of options available within the applications. Users of the electronic device interact with the menu to, for example, select settings of the application or apply options to content within the application. These menus are often displayed as a separate user interface within the application, such that a user navigates away from a main portion or content of the application to access the menu. Switching between the main portion of the application and the menu is inconvenient to a user and increases an amount of time the user spends selecting desired options within the application. An increased time spent selecting from menu item makes the application appear more difficult and complex to the user and reduces the quality of the user experience. In addition, because the user is spending more time interacting with the menus rather than making substantive decisions as the content of the application, it takes generally longer for a user to complete a desired task, thus requiring typically more energy to be consumed by the device, and thus more quickly reducing battery life on portable devices.


Apple's Solution


Apple's invention covers an improved user interface of an electronic device for providing an 'options menu.' Devices, methods, and graphical user interfaces for a menu of options enables users of electronic devices to view and select available options more effectively and efficiently, improving a speed of user interactions with the options menu to make such selections, and thereby decreasing energy used by the electronic devices, and potentially extending the battery life of the device.


The radial menu includes a first sequence of selectable options that extends off of an edge of the display so that a first portion of the first sequence of selectable options is displayed while a second portion of the first sequence of selectable options is not displayed. The radial menu also includes a first selection region at a first fixed location on the radial menu.


While a first portion in the first sequence of selectable options is displayed in the first selection region of the radial menu, an option-selection input associated with the radial menu is detected, such as a touch input. Responsive to detecting the option-selection input, the first sequence of selectable options is slid around a perimeter of the radial menu so that the first option is moved out of the first selection region of the radial menu and a second option is moved into the first selection region of the radial menu.


Apple states that radial menus could apply to iOS devices such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The new radial menus could also be used in future MacBooks and other Macs using macOS.



Apple's patent FIG 9B illustrates sliding the second sequence of options around a second ring of the radial menu.


Apple's patent application 20170192627 was filed back in Q2, 2016. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.


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