Apple wins a patent for Sharing Information across devices in a 'Linked Mode' that may or not be the foundation of 'Continuity'
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to an all-new manner of operation referred to as a 'Linked Mode' wherein an iPhone could rest against a MacBook Display and share information wirelessly by dragging and dropping. Whether this is something new in-the-works or the foundation for Apple's Continuity feature is a little unclear. One or more scenario presented in this granted patent provide features unavailable with today's Continuity.
Apple notes in their patent background that electronic devices such as computers and cellular telephones are often used as stand-alone devices. Although it is possible to wirelessly share data between these devices, sharing can be complex and cumbersome.
Apple's granted patent covers a new system that may include electronic devices that communicate wirelessly. The devices may include displays. In some arrangements, devices may be positioned so that the displays of the devices overlap.
When positioned so that a pair of devices overlap or are adjacent to one another, the devices may operate in a linked mode.
During linked operations, devices may communicate wirelessly while input gathering and content displaying operations are shared among the devices. For example, a user may seamlessly move a pointer that is present on the display of a first device (MacBook) to the display of a second device (an iPhone). Using the pointer or other user input, content may be moved between devices (e.g., a file on one display may be dragged and dropped onto another display, thereby sharing the file between devices).
One or more devices in the system may have sensors. Sensor data such as motion and orientation data may be used in determining when devices should be linked. To determine which portion of a display in a first device is overlapped by a display in a second device, the system may adjust visual output on the display of the first device while gathering corresponding camera input or other optical measurements with the second device. A binary search or other position determination algorithm may be used by the system to identify the relative positions of the devices.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below illustrates a MacBook linking to an iPhone to create a linked mode of operation; FIG. 2 is a front view of an illustrative pair electronic devices in linked mode; FIG. 3 is a side view of an illustrative system with the iPhone leaning against a MacBook display; FIG. 4 is a flow chart of illustrative operations involved in operating electronic devices in a linked mode.
According to Apple, the system may monitor for user input indicating that the MacBook and iPhone are to be operated in the linked mode. This user input may be obtained instead of or in addition to automatically detecting readiness for operation in linked mode using motion and orientation sensor circuitry in device 10B (iPhone).
The user input may be a particular gesture performed by moving the iPhone towards the MacBook display and use a shaking motion or a touch screen input, voice input, and/or other input detected using one or more sensors or other devices. In response to detecting appropriate triggering input conditions (user input, a resting angle of device 10B within a predetermined angular range, and/or other conditions), operations may proceed to block 80 (of FIG. 4 above).
The patent covers one or more unique scenarios unavailable the current state of Continuity. One such scenario is presented in FIG. 12 below. NOTE: The US. Patent Office site crashed at 7:25 a.m. EST as I was finishing this report. I was unable to capture the FIG. 12 image or any other text. I'll follow up later once the Patent Office site is restored. The image illustrated a MacBook lid closed with an iPhone sitting on top of it, with the devices still being able to share data with each other.
Update; 5:05 a.m. PST, 8:05 EST:
In the illustrative configuration of patent FIG. 12 above, device 10B (iPhone) is overlapping device 10A (MacBook) while the housing of the MacBook is closed and the display isn't visible. Nevertheless, after linking devices the two devices, the iPhone display #20B may be used to allow a user to share items between devices (e.g. by swipe sharing or otherwise sharing items from device 20B to device 10A).
As shown in FIG. 12, the iPhone display 20B may be used to display an item such as item #116 which may be an item on the iPhone that could still be shared with the MacBook while the cover is closed.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent US 11599322 B1.
- Wang; Paul X: Senior Manager, Product Design
- Paul Johnson: Hardware Engineering Manager
- Aaron Wang: Senior Software Engineer
- Dinesh Matthew: Researcher