updated 02:55 pm EDT, Thu July 5, 2007
Apple has filed a patent that covers touchscreens with reactive input for various portable devices -- presumably the iPhone, but also potentially forthcoming versions of the iPod and Macs. The patent calls for a method of displaying icons on a touch-sensitive display, which trigger actions based on user input. The patent describes a variable response based on the "actual contact and the estimated contact." In other words, selecting one icon will lead to a defined second set of icons, and so forth, anticipating what the user would like to select. The system can learn to adapt based on user history and other factors including gestures. For instance, the first symbol may be selected using one or more tap gestures and the second symbol may selected using a swipe gesture. "Two or more consecutive taps may correspond to the second symbol if a time interval between two or more corresponding contacts is less than a third pre-determined value."
The invention in question seeks to resolve an issue where portable electronic devices (e.g., mobile phones) have resorted to adding more pushbuttons, increasing a density of push buttons, overloading the functions of pushbuttons, or using complex menu systems to allow a user to access, store and manipulate data.