Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to an all new tool that lets users navigate through large documents like a Word document or iWork Pages doc, a PDF or spreadsheet (Numbers). The new tool is described as being a "Joystick" as noted in our cover graphic. It's obviously a "virtual joystick." I'm sure that when Apple's Craig Federighi demonstrates this new tool on stage at a future event, he'll make it look simple to use and navigate. We'll even wonder how we ever lived without it. Yet for now, while fascinating, it's a little difficult to visualize in practice.
Apple notes that applications executed on electronic devices may include applications that enable users to input and edit text. Examples of such applications include word processing applications, presentation applications, spreadsheet applications, and note-taking applications.
In some cases, a display of an electronic device may not display an entire document within an application. In other words, only a portion of a document within an application may be displayed. For example, in some cases, an electronic device may have a relatively small display and/or the document may be relatively large (e.g., wide, long, or both). Navigating through the document may prove challenging in such cases or with certain types of electronic devices.
Apple's invention relates to a virtual joystick tool that may be utilized to navigate through a productivity document (e.g., a text document, spreadsheet document, presentation document, etc.).
More specifically, the joystick tool may be presented on a display of an electronic device with the productivity document, and a user of the electronic device may interact with the joystick tool to navigate within the productivity document.
For instance, the tool may include a joystick that the user may interact with to cause a viewable portion of the productivity document that is displayed to transition to another viewable portion of the productivity document.
Additionally, a user may select within a bounding area associated with the joystick tool to cause the viewable portion of the productivity document to jump to another viewable portion of the productivity document.
Accordingly, a user may be able to navigate through the productivity document in a convenient and intuitive manner, especially on electronic devices with relatively small displays and/or electronic devices that do not utilize input structures typically associated with computers, such as keyboards, mice, and/or trackpads.
The devices that will be able to use such a tool will be an iPhone, iPad, MacBook an Apple Watch, a Virtual Reality Headset, a Television, or vehicle dashboard.
Apple's patent FIG. 7 is a flow diagram for a process for adjusting a viewable portion of a productivity document; FIG. 9 illustrates a software application program with a joystick tool.
Apple's patent FIG. 10 illustrates a software application program when a viewable portion of a productivity document is modified based on a user interaction with the joystick tool of FIG. 9. The arrow will shift left, right, up or down according to where a user wants to navigate the document; FIG. 20 illustrates the software application program of FIG. 8 when a user makes an input to jump to a portion of a productivity document.
Apple's patent application 20200241744 that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back in Q1 2019. To get your head around this new tool and concept, check out the full patent application here.
You have to wonder if this new tool will be for Macs on Apple Silicon being that Apple is basically stating that the tool will be common on all Apple devices.
Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
The inventors are listed as Jonathan Robert Speicher and David Findlay. Neither have a LinkedIn profile.