Apple has been granted 29 new patents, covering inventions that include the Apple TV, in-cell touchscreen technology, the Smart Cover, a multi-button mouse, and radial menus for iOS and OS X.
The patent describes an LCD screen with the touch-sensing elements integrated within it, rather than in a layer that is placed over the device’s screen. This is not the first we’ve heard about the possibility of such technology being used by Apple in the sixth-generation iPhone. In July, reports emerged suggesting that the new iPhone would have a thinner, in-cell display.
“By integrating the layered structure of an LCD and a touch sensor, a variety of benefits can be achieved,” reads the patent filing. “This integration can include combining or interleaving the layered structures described above. Integration can further include eliminating redundant structures and/or finding dual purposes (e.g.., one purpose for the touch function and another for the display function) for particular layers or structures. This can permit some layers to be eliminated, which can reduce the cost and thickness of the touch screen LCD, as well as simplify manufacturing.”
Apple has also been granted a trio of patents covering radial menus on both mobile and desktop devices, reports Patently Apple.
The patent, which refers to the iPhone specifically but can also be applied to the desktop, covers an invention designed to provide menus and submenus to the user at optimal locations relative to a cursor, rather than through a traditional linear pull-down menus.
The traditional menu method requires users to move their cursor to the top of the window to select File, Edit, View etc. Apple’s invention aims to eliminate the need to move the cursor, by providing an alternative method of presenting the menu.
“A radial menu can appear as a set of wedges, each wedge representing a menu item, around the location of a cursor on the display,” explains Patently Apple. “Submenus of some radial menus are activated by moving a cursor to the wedge representing that submenu and clicking on that wedge.”
Apple also won a “major Apple TV patent,” reports Patently Apple.
“Apple’s patent clearly shows that Apple TV was and/or is going to work with cable TV and provide PVR-like features,” reads the report. “Whether Apple TV will ever make the leap to being a fully advanced iOS based Smart TV is unknown at this time – though it certainly would be a way to get under Samsung’s skin,” the report continues, suggesting that this would be a good reason for Apple to enter the television market.
The patent shows that Apple has considered adding advanced set-top-box features for the Apple TV, including a channel navigation menu and the ability to record TV shows.
The newly granted Smart Cover patent relates to the coded magnets used in the iPad accessory, as well as the various releasable attachment techniques.
One of the new patent wins relates to a multi-button mouse, which Patently Apple points out is not the Magic Mouse, as it has no mention of optical sensing surface or touch detection. Instead, the patented invention uses tilt sensors across various button zones.
Apple has also filed a trademark application for the iPhone for iOS logo.
Among the other patents published by the US Patent and Trademark office are:
- Menu overlay including context dependent menu icon
- Ambient light calibration for energy efficiency in display systems
- Dome switch array
- Dock insert
- Method and apparatus to accelerate scrolling for buffered windows