Apple granted patent on using apps during calls

Apple granted patent on using apps during calls

Summary: This could change everything ... for the competition.

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TOPICS: Apple, Legal
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On Tuesday Apple was granted a patent related to using apps while also on a call. This could change everything ... for the competition.

Patent number 8,082,523, called Portable electronic device with graphical user interface supporting application switching, is interesting because it seems so specific while in fact also being very broad:

A method, comprising: at a portable electronic device with a touch screen display: displaying on the touch screen display a first user interface for a phone application during a phone call; detecting activation of a menu icon or menu button during the phone call, in response to detecting activation of the menu icon or menu button, replacing the first user interface for the phone application with a menu of application icons including an icon for the phone application and an icon for a non-telephone application; maintaining the phone call while displaying the

menu of application icons on the touch screen display; detecting a finger gesture on an application icon in the menu of application icons other than the phone application icon; in response to detecting the finger gesture on the application icon other than the phone application icon, displaying a corresponding application user interface on the touch screen display while continuing to maintain the phone call and modifying the corresponding application user interface to include a switch application icon that is not displayed in the corresponding application user interface when there is no ongoing phone call; detecting a finger gesture on the touch screen display on the switch application icon; and in response to detecting the finger gesture on the switch application icon, replacing display of the corresponding application user interface with the first user interface for the phone application while continuing to maintain the phone call.

This patents the entire process of switching between a call and an app (and back again) on the iPhone. But what's interesting is that the more you read this patent, the more you realize how cunning it is. It's not impossible for someone to develop a method for switching between a call and apps that wouldn't violate this patent, but the existence of this patent could very well make it hard for the solution to be an elegant one.

This is yet another in a stack of mobile technology related patents that Apple will undoubtedly use to keep Google and Microsoft (or Android and Windows Phone handset makers) in line.

Topics: Apple, Legal

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415 comments
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  • Prior art?

    I can already do this on my HTC Desire, and could on my Nokia E71 - while in a call go to the home screen and start apps??? I've done this many times while looking up numbers, emails etc while in a call.
    jlwarlow
    • RE: Apple granted patent on using apps during calls

      @jlwarlow Yes but does HTC hold the patent for it?
      Englishmole
      • Prior art. Android has been doing this since the G1

        This is an invalid patent, because this is exactly what a processor does that has multi thread capabilities. Apple has just invented MULTITASKING... How dumb!.<br><br>Its amazing how poor of a job the US patent office does. <br><br>A few other companies including but not limited to: Samsung (US7937743, US20100299597) and MS have already been awarded this kind of capability before now and associated patents.
        Uralbas
      • RE: Apple granted patent on using apps during calls

        @Englishmole

        Just because you get a patent doesn't automatically mean it's going to stick around long term when reviewed under careful scrutiny. The USPTO has granted many patents that get tossed out in legal battles. All Apple can do is patent as many things as possible to slow down, but not stop the competition.

        It should be interesting to see how Microsoft fares when the anti-Android Barnes & Noble starts in February. Apple does not automatically win their patent lawsuits, 100% of the time.
        DonRupertBitByte
      • RE: Apple granted patent on using apps during calls

        @Englishmole Doesn't matter. Prior art will invalidate a patent when it comes up in a court battle no matter if the prior-art creator filed a patent or not.
        Bucky24
      • RE: Apple granted patent on using apps during calls

        @Englishmole: You don't need to get a patent for things you invent. It's also not allowed to patent other's inventions. But the USPTO are too stupid to confirm the validity of patents before accepting them.
        Natanael_L
      • RE: Apple granted patent on using apps during calls

        @Englishmole that is exactly the point no company should be able to patent anything after it has been done by another - that includes HTC as well as apple - consumers are fed up to the teeth with rich corporations trying to limit the market choice through legal technicalities. No one can copy anything until its out there -- the inventing company have a head start and that is all they should have
        cymru999
      • RE: Apple granted patent on using apps during calls

        @Englishmole That's irrelevant. Prior art is prior art.
        MadDonkey
      • RE: Apple granted patent on using apps during calls

        @Englishmole: That doesn't mean patent is valid. Multi app usage during calls is already a universal phenomenon. Music, contact search, internet during Calls...!!!
        gaurav.kapil
      • RE: Apple granted patent on using apps during calls

        @Uralbas:

        There may very well be prior art for this... I don't know. I just have to wonder what goes through some people's heads when they cite "prior art" for products like the Android/G1 which clearly came AFTER the iPhone. Sigh...

        For the rest of the dopes that keep citing prior art, if you bothered to read the article, this patent doesn't prevent multitasking during a phone call. It simply prevents others from doing it Apple's way. Other approaches will likely be more clumsy, but that's how it goes.
        techconc
      • RE: Apple granted patent on using apps during calls

        @Englishmole The US patent system is beyond broken, they will approve just about anything, and the simple reason for this is $$$. More approvals, more revenue, more applications for bogus crap, and even more revenue.
        HackerJ
      • It Doesn't Matter

        @Englishmole There is a LOT of prior art on this one. Granting that patent to Apple is another epic failure on the part of our Patent Department. And no, I am not thinking of Android. I have seen parts of this patent on several different phones years before the iPhone came out. I can't remember which now. I can't even remember whether they were US or Japanese phones.
        mejohnsn
      • RE: Apple granted patent on using apps during calls

        @Englishmole: this is a great thread you have kicked off.

        Two other points of information to add:
        1) @techconc: my Blackberry Storm does this, does it this way. Likely predates this.
        2) What happens with the new US Patent system when they go to first filers. Don't know that we are going to have any less litigation, just new ones for new reasons.
        gallee
    • RE: Apple granted patent on using apps during calls

      @jlwarlow <br><br>HTC Desire came out in 2010, years after the iPhone came out and years after this patent was filed. Apple filed many of these multi-touch screen patents well before they released their iPhone. The Nokia E71 was released in 2008 and i cant find anything that showed it to be a touch-screen phone. Let alone one that uses "fingers" which the patent specify.
      dave95.
      • RE: Apple granted patent on using apps during calls

        @dave95. [i]Let alone one that uses "fingers" which the patent specify.[/i]

        and we're now at the point where we "patent" what is done with our fingers.... I have officially lost all faith in humanity.
        Badgered
      • RE: Apple granted patent on using apps during calls

        @Badgered

        [i]and we're now at the point where we "patent" what is done with our fingers.... I have officially lost all faith in humanity.[/i]

        Wait, aren't patents granted based on the method of doing something? Which refers to a way of using a product to accomplish a given result? So if part of that NEW method is using one's <b>finger</b> to accomplish a given result on multi-touch capacitive glass surface phone screen, why shouldn't it be patented?

        I seem to recall smart phones before the iPhones were mainly resistive screens requiring stylus to use. You can peck at it with your fingers (or fingernails) but it only recognized a single touch at a time.

        IDK, I think humanity is now benefiting for Apple setting the standard on what a modern smart phone should be.
        dave95.
      • Lame patent

        @dave95.
        Can do this on my Epix (win6.5)
        rhonin
      • The Method Has to Be Non-Obvious

        @dave95. <br>Of course, something that you did with a stylus or a virtual pointer before you'd never imagine the possibility of doing with your finger. It must be patentable; who'd have thought of that?
        CFWhitman
      • dave95: great news for competitors then

        @dave95.
        If things like "same method as before but on a glass surface" represent a new patent then all competitors have to do is patent this for screen sizes like 3.6". Brand new patent and Apple can't come after them.
        toddybottom
      • @Badgered

        Precisely. Because a patent is all about HOW you do something, not what you do. Also, a key element of the patent is the "return to call" bar across the top of the interface during a call. Again, this patent is not stopping anyone from running apps during a call; it's telling them they have to do it DIFFERENTLY than Apple does it. For some reason, this very simple concept is impossible for some people to grasp.
        baggins_z