Apple Wins Patents for the iOS Virtual Keyboard, Cover Flow and a Never Released iPad Design and More
The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 16 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. The notables within this group include patents for iLife's iDVD application, a method for creating Web Clip Widgets for iOS devices, Cover Flow and iOS's virtual keyboard. Yet the one granted patent that really stood out this morning was that of an iPad design that never came to market. You just might find it interesting to see what that missing feature is.
Granted Design Patent: iPad 1 Wi-Fi + 3G with Two Apple Connector Slots
Apple has been granted a design patent for what appears to be the original iPad Wi-Fi + 3G model that just happened to have a second landscape Apple Connector slot as is clearly noted below in patent figures 1 and 6. It's unknown at this time as to why Apple decided to scrap the secondary Landscape Apple Connector slot – when consumers clearly wanted such an option. Of course Apple could always decide to reinstate the Apple Connector slot in a future version of the iPad or simply shift to wireless charging which would eliminate the need for such a port in the first place. The latter is likely the reason for scrapping it. (See Single Slot View)
Apple credits CEO Steve Jobs, VP Industrial Design Jonathan Ive and team members Jody Akana, Bartley Andre, Daniel Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Richard Howarth, Duncan Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Christopher Stringer, Eugene Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer as the inventors of Granted Patent D637,596 which was originally filed in Q1 2010.
Today's US granted patent confirms our initial report of this design that first surfaced in China back in September 2010. Update 3:30 PM MST: The connector is technically an "Apple Dock Connector to USB cable" connection to your Mac or PC. My Thanks to Melgross for that keen observation. Patently Apple has updated our graphic and report verbiage to reflect that very point.
Granted Patent: Virtual Keyboard for iOS Devices
Prior to the launch of the iPhone in 2007, sophisticated virtual keyboards were nonexistent. Devices like the BlackBerry were using hard keys which clutter the user interface. Apple introduced their 2007 iPhone with a virtual keyboard that allowed a user to shift back and forth between using letter keys to numeric keys and to symbol/punctuation keys as required.
Apple credits Kenneth Kocienda and Bass Ording as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,941,760, originally filed in Q3 2007.
Granted Patent: Apple's iLife – iDVD
Apple has been granted a patent for iDVD which is a part of their iLife Suite. Apple's iDVD is a multimedia authoring application. A menu theme may include one or more dropzones wherein a still image, a set of still images for a slideshow, or a movie may be dropped. According to Apple, with iDVD you can premiere your movies and photo slideshows on a professional-quality DVD with animated menus, buttons, scene selection, and more.
Apple credits Ralf Weber, Jeff Mitchell, and Tim Wasko (High River Canada as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,941,757, originally filed in Q2 2009 (though the references go back to 2003 when iLife was first introduced).
Granted Patent: Web Clip Widget
Apple has been granted a patent for Web Clip Widgets on iOS Devices. The original idea for Web Clip creation for the Mac was first introduced at Apple's WWDC in August 2006. With Web Clip, you're able to make a portion of your favorite webpage into a Web Clip widget and add it to Dashboard – a built in feature of OS X. When the webpage's content is updated, your Web Clip widget is also updated. When you click a Web Clip widget in Dashboard, the webpage you used to create it opens. Today's granted patent is about using the Web Clip feature to create widgets on iOS devices. The first iOS device to receive this feature should be the iPhone if the illustrations are correct.
Apple credits Senior VP of iPhone Software Scott Forstall as the sole inventor of Granted Patent 7,940,250 originally filed in Q3 2007.
Granted Patent: Cover Flow for iOS Devices
Apple has been granted their fourth patent for Cover Flow which is titled "Animation of Graphical Objects." Apple's Cover Flow makes it easy to flip through songs, artists and album art using Apple's Hi-Glossy 3D-like interface called cover flow. Apple was sued over the use of Cover Flow by Mirror Worlds in 2010 but had the case overturned just last month.
Apple's patent FIG. 8 illustrates an exemplary viewport (patent point # 110) including images that include cover art associated with one or more media files
Apple's Technical Patent Abstract: A method for animating graphical objects is provided. In one embodiment, the method includes providing a plurality of graphical objects and displaying a subset of the objects in a viewport. In this embodiment, the method may also include calculating a virtual destination for one of the graphical objects based on a received user input, and moving the graphical object to the virtual destination over a period of time. Various additional methods, machine-readable media, and devices for animating graphical objects and controlling operational characteristics of a device are also provided.
Apple credits Christopher Tremblay as the sole inventor of Granted Patent 7,941,758, originally filed in Q3 2007. Apple's other granted patents relating to Cover Flow for mobile devices were posted in February, April and October 2010.
Other Granted Patents Published Today
Apple's other granted patents include the following: System and Method for Displaying Text; Cascode Switching Circuit; Methods and Apparatus for Charging a Battery in a Peripheral Device; Virtualization of Graphics Resources; Method of Implementing Improved Rate Control for a Multimedia Compression and Encoding System; Source Address Based Routing Process; Distributing and Synchronizing Objects; Method and Apparatus for Mediating Among Media Applications; and Management and Prioritization of Media Item Downloading.
The last granted patent of the day goes to one titled "Self-Identifying Microphone" as we illustrate below.
Apple's patent covers a microphone including a connector with a plurality of electrical contacts. The microphone interfaces with a computer system via a digital bus such as USB and/or FireWire. The microphone could transmit data to the computer system via the connector that is related to at least one of the following: the microphone manufacturer, the microphone manufacture date, the microphone model number, the microphone serial number, the microphone frequency response, whether the microphone uses phantom power, the desired pre-amplifier gain, and the microphone dynamic response. The microphone would be associated with an application like an audio mixing program such is found in Final Cut Pro.
Apple acuired this patent a few years back and there appears to be no reference of such a Microphone with a Google search. Is this some ancient product of Apple's that failed or is it something that's in the works? I don't know. If someone happens to recognize this microphone from yesteryear, then please send us a link so that we could add it to our report. Otherwise we may be looking at a future product.
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 Granted Patent is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application and/or Issued Patent should be read in its entirety for further details. Patents shouldn't be digested as rumors or fast-tracked according to rumor time tables. Apple patents represent true research that could lead to future products and should be understood in that light. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
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@Magnus. Huh, I guess that means that Apple should sue Google for copying that feature. Thanks for the headsup, Magnus.
Posted by: Joe | May 11, 2011 at 05:57 AM
Interesting. Look at the Virtual Keyboard's first row above the keys. It shows spelling suggestions just like Android uses today.
Posted by: Magnus | May 10, 2011 at 10:56 PM
Great point Mel. It's really an Apple Connector to USB cable connection to your Mac.
Posted by: Jack Purcher | May 10, 2011 at 03:26 PM
That certainly doesn't look like a landscape USB port. It's the same size as the Apple Connector. A USB port would be shown as being much smaller.
There were rumors of a landscape Apple Connector, which would have made more sense.
Posted by: melgross | May 10, 2011 at 02:58 PM