updated 12:55 pm EDT, Thu July 5, 2007
Click-wheel dialing patent
Three patents filed by Apple Inc. surfaced today that detail telephone and text entry interfaces for a cellular-capable device via a click-wheel. The second patent will enable users to "type" or dial phone numbers with a click-wheel interface and receive suggestions for completing words or phrases to speed typing efforts. The first patent, titled "Telephone Interface for a Portable Communication Device," describes a rotary dial driven by an iPod-like click-wheel. The rotary dial produces numbers as well as icons arranged in a circular pattern, allowing users to scroll through the icons and numbers with the touch of a finger via either a click-wheel or touch-screen interface.
The second patent titled "Text Entry Interface for a Portable Communication Device" describes the process of displaying one or more characters that were selected by a user via a click-wheel in a first tray, while a second tray includes various icons that correspond to a set of characters and one or more recommended words in what appears to be an attempt by Apple to 'auto-complete' a word or phrase to speed typing efforts.
A third patent describes segmenting a click-wheel's circular shape into various regions to enable quick phone dialing by sensing which region was touched, dialing the number shown in that region of the clickwheel on the corresponding screen.