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On May 1, 2008, the US Patent & Trademark Office published one of Apple's patent applications disclosing embodiments relating to a user interface, and more particularly, to a user interface for call waiting and conference calls. While the patent discusses one of the interfaces of a cell phone being that of the current all touch iPhone, the patent delves into variant interfaces that utilize a click wheel or touch pad. 


Call Waiting and iChat  



Apple's patent background generally establishes the fact that most of today's cell phones include inflexible physical pushbuttons coupled with time consuming requirements to memorize multiple key sequences and menu hierarchies to accomplish simple tasks. Apple then specifically establishes the fact that interfaces for call waiting and conference calling suffer the same shortcomings. Apple states that "users are often at a loss as to the sequence of buttons to push in order to switch between calls or to make a conference call. Furthermore, the interface often does not convey intuitively the parties involved in the calls. Accordingly, there is a need for more efficient interfaces for call waiting and conference calling."


The emphasis of this particular Apple patent is clearly to present us with their proposed UI for call waiting and conference calls and the patent figures below support that fact. However, what becomes abundantly clear to those of us looking in is that Apple may be providing us with a glimpse of an alternative iPhone embodiment utilizing their traditional click wheel. Considering that the patent was originally filed only months prior to Apple's iPhone debut - which introduced us all to a full touch screen interface - the oddity of Apple's emphasis in this patent to establish the click wheel as the exemplary embodiment may point to the fact that lower tech iPhone variants are in the works. Apple's FIG 2 noted above is testament to this fact.


Exemplary Graphical User Interfaces




Apple's patent FIGS 4A-4F noted above illustrate exemplary graphical user interfaces for conveying information regarding multiple callers. You could find detailed information concerning each of the steps noted above in the patent link provided under patent points 59 to 67.


Apple lists their CEO Steven P. Jobs along with the following engineers as the inventors of this patent: Greg Christie, Bas Ording, Imran Chaudhri and Scott Forstall. Apple's patent 20080100693 was originally filed in October 2006.

NOTICE: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of patents with associated graphic(s) for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application and/or grant is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application and/or grant should be read in its entirety for further details. For additional information on today's patent(s), simply feed the individual patent number(s) noted above into this search engine.


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