updated 10:25 am EDT, Thu May 3, 2007
Multiple Dashboard patent
Apple's latest patent application surfaced today describing multiple Dashboard interfaces with customizable settings for individual users that depicts 2D as well as 3D interfaces for swapping between those Dashboards. The patent, titled "Multiple Dashboards," details an interactive Dashboard cube that users can flip or turn to reveal several different collections of widgets, which will likely find its way into Mac OS X Leopard. Apple goes on to say that other geometric objects are usable to display Dashboards such as cylinders, spheres, triangles, diamonds, and more. Users can create separate Dashboards that include sets of widgets related to specific purposes, such as work and personal matters. The new technology supports customizable key combinations or menu selections to switch between Dashboards, and state information is saved for each collection of widgets to restore that Dashboard to its previous respective configuration.
Apple's new technology will allow users to manipulate a control mechanism, such as a scroll bar or key, to control the animation of the cube or other geometric object containing multiple Dashboards. Apple's example describes each quarter rotation of the front-facing side of a cube as displaying a different Dashboard icon, image, or other Dashboard indicia which is static or at least partially animated. In short, users can quickly review available Dashboards by "spinning" the cube around one of its axes. The patent also describes a flip button to rotate or spin the cube to see another Dashboard, and describes making more than one Dashboard visible to users at any given time.
Different Dashboards can contain one or more of the same widgets, according to Apple, with state information for a widget being maintained separately for each Dashboard in which that widget appears or commonly maintained across all Dashboards. Additionally, each users can "own" different Dashboards for different uses of a computer or other electronic device, enabling each user to access only their own Dashboards. Users can also specify a Dashboard as being available to others, and can choose whether other users are permitted to make changes to a shared Dashboard.
Further implementations of multiple Dashboards include a Rolodex-style interface that presents an animated graphic to simulate the functionality of a Rolodex by allowing users to flip through multiple Dashboards. Yet another potential implementation listed is a carousel graphic animated to simulate the functionality of a carousel by allowing users to manipulate the graphic to reveal available Dashboards.
Providing more detail, the Cupertino-based company illustrates a Dashboard configuration bar displayed in a user interface that allows users to launch and/or display a Dashboard by selecting an icon associated with that Dashboard from the Dashboard configuration bar and dropping the icon into the user interface.
"When the icon is clicked or dragged and dropped in the user interface, the dashboard is displayed," Apple writes. "If multiple dashboard and/or widgets are dropped in the user interface, then in some implementations the dashboards and/or widgets can be dynamically tiled, tabbed or otherwise organized for maximum visibility depending on the display environment and user preferences."
Dashboard organization can include replacing or partially overlapping existing Dashboards, and when users traverse the icon with a cursor a panel or bubble is displayed near the icon which lists the widgets or other desired information in the Dashboard. Alternatively, Apple says users can traverse over different Dashboard icons in the configuration bar to switch each Dashboard in and out of operation.
Some implementations could allow users to organize Dashboard icons in the Dashboard configuration bar based on the Dashboard type or class, and could utilize one or more filter buttons for filtering out Dashboards from displaying in the configuration bar based one one or more filter criteria.
Apple also outlines a tab control option that will enable users to switch between multiple Dashboards in a similar fashion to switching between Web page tabs in Safari or Firefox. The patent describes tab panel customization that allows users as well as applications to control tab size, location, color, font, and style. Tabs support labeling to describe the set of widgets contained within, and users can minimize the tab control which is stored in a configuration bar when not in use.