On November 6, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a possible new user interface mainly designed for future iDevice applications. A special aspect of this new UI design is that it involves the use of dynamic, moveable interface elements. As example's Apple points us to photo, map and mathematical applications that could use this new user interface though technically it could apply to any future application. The new UI is designed to include built-in tutorial and/or a quick help system to guide users in how to use a particular feature of a new application that they're not familiar with. This could easily be seen as something that Apple's developers will also be able to tap into in the future. In the end, it looks as though this is something that we could definitely see Apple bring to market in the future.
Apple's Patent Background
Many computing devices include a touchscreen interface that can detect physical contact from a user of the device and perform a corresponding action. For instance, some computing devices can detect when a user has provided a particular gesture (e.g., using one or more of the user's fingertips) on a touchscreen user interface, such as a single-tap, double-tap, drag, swipe, pinch, flick, rotation, multi-touch gesture, and the like. Upon receiving a gesture, such computing devices can generate an event corresponding to the gesture which may cause an application running on the device to perform a particular action.
Applications typically include a user interface with control elements that a user can select, or otherwise interact with, to cause the computing device to perform the various functions of the application. In the case of a touchscreen device, such interaction can include the user providing touch input in the form of a gesture on or near a displayed control element. In many instances, however, users may be unaware of the particular functionalities associated with some or all of the control elements displayed in the user interface of an application. Thus, in such instances, users may be unable to utilize otherwise desirable functionalities of applications running on their device.
Users can perform a "trial by error" process whereby control elements are randomly selected to determine their functionality. Such a process, however, can be quite time consuming and ineffective. In some instances, an application may be associated with a user manual that can be installed along with the application, and that includes reference information describing the functionality of the various control elements displayed in the application's user interface. Reviewing such a user manual however, can be a cumbersome process. Further, particularly in the case of a mobile device including a limited display area, reviewing a user manual for an application often involves the user manual occupying all or a portion of the device's display area. Thus, users are unable to utilize the functionalities of the underlying application while the user manual is being displayed.
Apple Invents Dynamic Moveable Interactive Interface Elements
Apple's invention generally relates to computing devices and more particularly to a computing device displaying content related to the functionality of control elements of a user interface within a moveable interactive element.
In a Photo Application
In the first embodiment, Apple presents us with a possible future photo application for iDevices that may use their new moveable interactive elements. Apple notes that a computing device can display one or more control elements of a user interface. Initial touch input can be received and, in response, an interactive element can be displayed in the user interface. Further touch input can then be received, the further touch input corresponding to dragging the interactive element onto a control element. The interactive element can be associated with the control element, and content related to the functionality of the control element can be determined. This content can then be displayed within the interactive element.
In Apple's patent FIG. 1 below we're able to see a user interface #102 of a photo application that includes one or more control elements #104 that may each correspond to a particular functionality of the photo application.
In various embodiments, the user interface can be displayed on a touch-sensitive interface of computing device that can both display information to a user and also receive touch input from the user such as a single-tap, double-tap, drag, swipe, pinch, flick, rotation, multi-touch gestures, and the like. Upon receiving such a gesture, the computing device can generate an event corresponding to the gesture which may cause an application running on the device (e.g., the photo application of FIG. 1) to perform a particular function.
Built-In Tutorials and/or Help System
As illustrated in Apple's patent FIG. 2 above, the initial touch input can correspond to a number of different user inputs according to various embodiments of the invention. For instance, in some embodiments, an interactive element #202 can be displayed in response to an application being executed by the computing device for the first time. In the specific example above, when the user opens their new photo app for the very first time, the computing device will display an interactive element that will provide the user with a way to learn about the functionalities of the various control elements.
In some embodiments, interactive elements can be displayed by the computing device each time an application (e.g., the photo application) is executed. In some embodiments, the initial touch input that prompts the computing device to display interactive elements can be a user-selection of a help element displayed in user interface 102 (not shown). The help elements can also be displayed in a separate user interface such as a help menu, options menu, tools menu, settings menu, etc.
As seen in FIG. 2 above, the interactive element #202 can display textual information prompting the user to drag the interactive element to any of the control elements #104 to receive further information about the functionality of the control element.
Apple notes that interactive elements can display any suitable combination of letters, numbers, characters, or other textual information upon being displayed in the user interface. In some embodiments, the interactive element can include one or more symbols or graphics in addition to, or in lieu of textual information.
Additionally, the interactive element can be manipulated by the user by moving it or dragging it to various locations in the control element bar as noted in FIG. 3 to receive further information about the element.
In some embodiments, other indications of the association can be provided including graphical indications (e.g., a color change, highlighting effect, shading effect, or the like of the interactive element and/or control element), audio indications, animation effects, etc.
In the context of a tutorial application, content can be displayed within the interactive element that facilitates a tutorial. For instance, a tutorial application may provide instructions for assembling or operating a consumer product, and the interactive element can display content related to the assembly steps or operation of the product.
Apple's "Maps" Application
Apple notes that in various embodiments of the invention, any content relevant to a user can be provided within the interactive element in response to the user dragging or otherwise interacting with the interactive element. For instance, in the context of a map application, the interactive element can display content related to a city, landmark, location, etc., in response to the user dragging the interactive element onto a corresponding region of a displayed map. Such content can include descriptions, nearby attractions, historical information, and the like.
A Mathematical Application
Apple notes that in the context of a mathematics application, content can be displayed within the interactive element to provide instructions for solving an equation or other problem. In some embodiments, content displayed within the interactive element can include images, hyperlinks, and/or written content related to products, applications, etc., being suggested to the user. Further, in some embodiments, the interactive element can be associated with any suitable graphical user interface element, and any suitable content related to such graphical user interface elements can be displayed within the interactive element.
As illustrated in Apple's patent FIG. 8 we're able to see a selectable affordance element #802 that can be displayed within interactive element while the content related to the functionality of an associated control element (i.e. control element 104(b)) is also being displayed. In response to the user selecting the affordance element, the computing device can display additional reference information about the control element. For instance, as illustrated in FIG. 9 above, the user can touch and select an affordance element such as an arrow with a tap and be able to receive additional reference information as shown in the UI #1002 in FIG. 10.
In the reference information area, more detailed information can be presented to the user. Apple notes that it's possible that hyperlinks to webpages on the net can be presented to the user or have them actually open to a specific page if relevant.
Apple credits Melissa Belisle and Frances Segal as the inventors of patent application 20140331130 which was originally filed in Q 2012. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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More Healthcare Industry Players are Thinking Apple
On October 26, 2014 we posted a report titled "More Healthcare Industry Players are Thinking Apple." Going forward we stated that we would present new third party patents for medical related inventions that claim to be for iOS or OS X. This week there one worth noting:
20140328517: SYSTEM AND METHODS FOR IDENTIFICATION OF IMPLANTED MEDICAL DEVICES AND/OR DETECTION OF RETAINED SURGICAL FOREIGN OBJECTS FROM MEDICAL IMAGES