In what could be a game changer for the smartphone industry, Apple was awarded a patent for its multi-touch interface for the iPhone and iPod touch.
Patent number 7,479,949 was filed on 11 April 2008 and was approved on January 20, 2009 and covers multi-touch and all associated gestures such as pinch, swipe and rotation.
The initial patent abstract is as follows:
A computer-implemented method for use in conjunction with a computing device with a touch screen display comprises: detecting one or more finger contacts with the touch screen display, applying one or more heuristics to the one or more finger contacts to determine a command for the device, and processing the command. The one or more heuristics comprise: a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a one-dimensional vertical screen scrolling command, a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a two-dimensional screen translation command, and a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a command to transition from displaying a respective item in a set of items to displaying a next item in the set of items.
It looks like acting Apple CEO Tim Cook's shot across the bow of Palm now has some legal teeth behind it. Can it be long before Apple's legal department files a motion to block ex-Appler Jon Rubenstein and company's use of anything resembling multi-touch in their upcoming Pre handset? The engineers over at Palm better put their thinking caps on.
Meanwhile Palm PR may want to reconsider this part of their 8 January 2009 press release:
- Instinctive user interface - With its multi-touch interface, webOS lets you move easily between activities like flipping through a deck of cards and rearrange items simply by dragging them; when you are done with something, just throw it away. And finding what you need is easy with universal search - as you type what you're looking for, the OS narrows your search and offers results from both your device and the web.
Having used the T-Mobile/HTC G1 for a few days makes me appreciate (and miss!) having multi-touch on that device. It's truly a competitive advantage for Apple because it's so intuitive and natural feeling. Android, on the other hand, is relegated to simple zoom in (+) and zoom out (-) buttons and a goofy loupe interface that allows you to scroll to a specific part of a long Web page. The only thing that I can compare the loupe feature to is reading a newspaper with a magnifying glass.
So, will Cook and Co. release the hounds?
Tip: World of Apple