Apple’s New Patent Could Make Your iPhone Smarter On the Go


Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been awarded a patent to develop a user interface that anyone who has ever been frustrated by typos or fumbled and accidentally dialed the wrong person on their iPhone while on the go should be excited about, reports Apple Insider.

The graphical user interface patent provides a solution to clumsy fingers and a sometimes less-than-intuitive touchscreen. The patent, (U.S. patent no. 8,631,358) outlines the specs for a user interface system that adjusts for users’ movements via minor software adjustments.

It may not be the most ground-breaking patent out there, but it certainly addresses a problem anyone with the popular smartphone has experienced at least once. The slight bobbing motion of walking, for instance, can lead to touchscreen mis-taps, and running while trying to use the phone’s touchscreen-only interface — while probably not particularly advisable in the first place — is next to impossible.

The proposed changes would use sensors to detect motion and/or patterns of motion that would then trigger changes in the device’s user interface, such as the enlargement of a button’s touch area. The technology would be able to use data such as acceleration and orientation to interpret the motion of the device, and those patterns could then be matched to preset categories, allowing the phone to adjust to a particular type of activity or motion.

Some responses will trigger the system to resize user interface elements and touch areas in order to compensate for movement. A contact list is a good example of this: The height of the row of contacts might be enlarged depending on movements, so that errant touches — and perhaps also so-called “pocket dials” — are less likely to happen.

Other features include the ability for elements on the touchscreen to be shifted vertically or horizontally opposite the direction of the motion in order to simulate a more stabilized display, Apple Insider reports.

The sensors are also able to detect the angle of hold and orientation of the device. Other new improvements may trigger the phone to create a “fisheye” effect on the touchscreen, directing more space and attention to certain elements and minimizing the size of other options.

The patent also suggests a “smart” user interface that can effectively “learn” from its user’s patterns of movement and how that movement relates to its user’s touch accuracy, Apple Insider says. The data the device collects will be stored and and used to help predict where the user is most likely to touch during a particular pattern of motion, enabling the device to respond better the next time it is engaged the same motion.

Exciting? Certainly if you’re an active iPhone user; but don’t get too excited: Like most Apple patents, Apple Insider reports that this patent may never see use in a consumer device. The tech website does note, however, that Apple does seem eager to explore the iPhone’s capabilities as an activity monitor, as evidenced by an M7 motion coprocessor update to the iPhone 5S.

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