On November 10, 2011, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a series of new gestures that will provide users with a number of advantages. It will allow users to view clusters of photos as well as greater detail of photos, maps and/or documents with greater ease and speed. Two of the new gestures are currently dubbed "Hold then Swipe" and "Swipe then Hold." And lastly, we end today's report by sharing Steve Jobs' thoughts on Intellectual Property, according to the Book of Jobs.
The Problem with Today's Limited Ways of Viewing Greater Detail of Photos or Maps on Portables
Electronic devices commonly display visual information of many types. For example, certain devices may display images and photos, maps, videos, documents, and so forth. Occasionally, a user of such an electronic device may desire to view certain elements of the visual information in greater detail. Accordingly, techniques have been developed to zoom in and out, as well as pan in various directions, to enable a user to more closely view such visual information. For example, certain touch screen display devices may have capabilities that enable a user to perform a "pinch" touch input gesture to zoom in on details of the visual information.
While such techniques may be effective when the electric device has a sufficiently large display screen or when the visual information on the display screen lacks detail, smaller display screens or visual information with greater detail may be difficult to view using such techniques. In particular, as electronic devices become smaller, many conventional techniques for viewing visual information on a correspondingly small display may be unwieldy or uncomfortable. Indeed, for small displays, many conventional touch input gestures may result in the user's fingers covering a substantial part of the display while zooming and panning, blocking the user's view of the visual information.
Apple Intros New Auto-Gestures for Displaying More Visual Data
Apple's patent relates to systems, methods, and devices for displaying visual information on an electronic display. For example, an electronic device may automatically display certain details of the visual information that are of interest to the user. One such method may include defining objects in visual information and detecting certain specific touch input gestures entered on the electronic display while the electronic display is displaying the visual information. When the touch input gestures are detected, the electronic device may automatically display a sequence of the objects of the visual information on the electronic display.
Introducing: The "Swipe then Hold" Gesture
Apple states that rather than simply enabling manual zooming and panning to view details of such visual information, the electronic device may display certain of the objects present in the visual information in greater detail automatically. In one example, a user may perform a "swipe then hold" touch input gesture, leaving a finger on the display screen of the electronic device. The electronic device then may pan and zoom onto any objects along a direction vector of the user's swipe gesture or, more generally, along a directional path associated with the user's swipe gesture. The user may vary the speed and/or direction of such cycling by moving the finger to the left or to the right and/or by tilting the orientation of the display screen.
Specifically, patent FIG. 8 below represents a "swipe then hold" touch input gesture 100, which may correspond to block 84 of the flowchart 80 of FIG. 7 and may take place while the display is displaying certain visual information, such as the digital photo 50.
Introducing: The "Hold then Swipe" Gesture
In another embodiment, which may be particularly suitable for a very small display screen (e.g. a display screen of approximately less than 3 square inches), a user may initiate the detailed display of certain objects with a "hold then swipe" touch input gesture. Such a gesture may end when the user lifts a finger off of the electronic display, permitting full view of the electronic display. Thereafter, the electronic device may cycle through the objects found along a directional path defined by the swipe.
For example, when a user selects a particular person's face in an image and performs the touch input gesture, the electronic device may begin to automatically cycle through other images that also contain the face of the identified person.
The Accelerometer will provide the user with New Device Controls
Apple states that beyond providing a new speed-varying process, another manner of varying the speed that the electronic device will provide is that users will be able to pan and zoom through various objects and clusters like documents as shown in Patent Figure 15 below with greater seed. Additionally, when the electronic device is tilted forward or backward (or up or down, or any other suitable orientations) the electronic device will pan and zoom in a faster, slower, forward, and/or reverse manner. The electronic device may detect such changes in orientation via its accelerometers.
Apple's patent FIG. 17 noted above represents a manner of performing a touch input gesture on the display of a compact media player. As illustrated, the touch input gesture is a "hold then swipe" touch input gesture, which may terminate when the user lifts the finger off of the display following the touch input gesture. Apple's patent FIG. 18 describes a process for varying the speed at which the electronic device cycles through the display of the various objects on the display as represented by block 150 of the flowchart 140 of FIG. 16. The simple idea of twisting the media player left or right, like the iPod nano of FIG. 18, to quickly scroll left or right is very smart, very cool.
Alternative patent figures repeat with differing scenarios of the new gestures of allowing a user the ability to rifle through a cluster of photos, documents or maps with ease.
In another application, this could eventually play a minor role within the context of Apple's latest acquisition of 3C Technologies. A user may be able to point to a particular landmark and use one of Apple's new gestures to call up all or a cluster of photorealistic photos of that same building that they have on hand. That would be very handy for photographers who want to view a large variety of photos from a given shoot or from inventory on a given topic to pop up quickly so that they could choose a photo for a project, especially a rush project.
Apple's patent application 20110273479 is very rich in detail for those wishing to explore it further. Apple's patent application was originally filed in Q4 2010 by inventors Michael Ingrassia, Jr.
The new gestures sound very promising though I think it'll take a classic Apple event demo to really get the simplicity of what Apple is trying to convey here. I like the fact that you'll be able to rifle through documents or photos quicker and with fewer steps. This again is a process trait that Steve Jobs pushed for constantly at Apple: To simplify processes in fewer steps. In the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, we learned of how he pushed the iTunes team to simplify the steps on an iPod to three moves at most per task. We see that this process philosophy in action in this patent.
Steve Jobs on Intellectual Property
And while I'm on the topic of the biography of Steve Jobs, I wanted to share his views on the importance of Intellectual Property. On page 396 of Walter Isaacson's Biography of Steve Jobs we read the following:
"From the earliest days at Apple, I realized that we thrived when we create intellectual property. If people copied or stole our software, we'd be out of business. If it weren't protected, there'd be no incentive for us to make software or protect designs. If Protection of intellectual property begins to disappear, creative companies will disappear or never get started. But there's a simpler reason: It's wrong to steal. It hurts other people. And it hurts your own character."
Other Noteworthy Patent Applications Published Today
Patent 20110273464: Title: Framework for Graphics Animation and Compositing Operations. Is Apple upgrading Cocoa? Apple's latest patent points to NSView which is a part of Cocoa's Objective-C API. It's an abstract class that defines basic drawing, event-handling, and printing architecture of applications. This current patent application, which was only filed four months ago, is based on a 2006 patent. But it's not a continuation patent. So while it borrows from the 2006 divisional patent, it's considered new. Only an Apple developer could tell us if this is really new or a refresher of the original framework. Here's a temporary link to the patent that's good for about 48 hours.
Patent 20110276692: Title: Server Load Balancing using Geodata: Apple's patent relates to serving geodata based on location of a requesting device. More specifically, the technology efficiently services requests for geodata, e.g., map data, by directing requests to a server that stores a shard of an entire database of geodata. A request for geodata includes an unencrypted header having a location of a device making the request for geodata. The present technology relates the location to a shard storing data relevant to the location.
Patent 20110276615: Title: Content Delivery based on user Terminal Events: Apple's invention is about advertising. The technology provides systems and methods for selecting content, such as advertisements, to present to users based on user interactions that fail to generate a conversion.
Notice: Patently Apple presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. Revelations found in patent applications shouldn't be interpreted as rumor or fast-tracked according to rumor timetables. Apple's patent applications have provided the Mac community with a clear heads-up on some of Apple's greatest product trends including the iPod, iPhone, iPad, iOS cameras, LED displays, iCloud services for iTunes and more. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
Here are a Few Great Community Sites covering our Original Report
MacSurfer, New York Times Blogrunner, MacVolPlace University of Tennessee, Houston Chronicle's TechBlog, Real Clear Technology, Lifehacker, Twitter, Facebook, Apple Investor News, Google Reader, UpgradeOSX, TechWatching, Macnews, iPhone World Canada, CBS MarketWatch, Techmeme, 9to5 Mac, Gizmodo, iDownloadBlog, CNET, SlashGear, TechCrunch, iPhoneItalia Italy, everythingiCafe, The Guardian UK, Telefonino Italy, Apple Headlines, CNN, GottaBeMobile, IntoMobile, TheAPPera, Gizmovil Spain, MacKozer Poland, MacLife Greece, and more.