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MS applies for iPhone-like interface patent

updated 03:40 pm EDT, Fri October 12, 2007

iPhone-like MS patent

Microsoft has filed a continuation application for an existing patent describing a user-interface similar to the one used by Apple's iPhone. Microsoft's application, titled "Extensible, filtered lists for mobile device user interface," aims to provide an improved user interface for mobile devices by providing access to data as well as services from multiple software applications through a group or list of items. "Each group or list can include multiple items, which can be associated with data or tasks from multiple applications," the patent filing reads. "The set of groups of items can be both customizable and extensible to allow users to locate and utilize data and tasks relevant to the particular user. The set of item groups can provide users with a filtered view of content available through the mobile device, enhancing access to subset of data and tasks available on the mobile device."

Microsoft's invention is designed to serve as a system that facilitates navigation on a mobile device, blurring the view of an item to signal the transition from a parent list to a shortcut list in response to received input. The interface is designed to manage multiple lists in this way, offering shortcuts based on user input while displaying at least a portion of the parent list in the background to provide context for the shortcut list.

Shortcuts are displayed as a vertical list or grid, and display component color codes items in the list alongside arrows to support scrolling.

"Mobile or portable devices have become increasingly popular and prevalent in today's society. Many users utilize a mobile device, such as a cell phone, as their primary means of communication and carry such devices with them constantly. Mobile devices can include multiple functions such as cellular phone service, voice over Internet protocol ('VoIP') phone service, software applications, email access, Internet capabilities, calendar functions, music players and the like," the filing states.

"Functions, features and capabilities have increased both the utility and complexity of mobile devices. It is likely that functions will continue to be added to mobile devices further increasing both usefulness and intricacy."

The patent specifically lists smartphones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) as prime candidates for the improved menu system, and offers an example of storing frequently-accessed contacts in a list that provides access to information for those contacts while maintaining access through the contacts application itself.

[First noted by dialaphone]

by MacNN Staff




  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Just like the Zune—a gigabyte short and a month late.

  1. UberFu

    Joined: Dec 1969


    this is getting...


    Apple owns the patent on the technology behind the external casing for the 1st Gen ZOONs_

    And now Microsoft has a patent that kind of mimicks the software interface for the iPhone_

    Maybe they are indeed one in the same company ?

    Theories ?

  1. ttrostel

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Why on earth is the patent office letting these things go through? We should just go patent using more than one color on a screen to denote priority ... like oh ... I don't know ... maybe red for critical items.

    This is ridiculous ... I'm all for patents on decidedly clever and innovative designs but this isn't either.

  1. trevc

    Joined: Dec 1969


    ridiculous ...

    Yes ridiculous, but if they don't go to these granual descriptions, what's preventing me from creating a Zunex with an interface that's identical in everyway? Is this why they do this?

    Agreed, messed up but not sure the patent necessity. I forget who said the company with the most patents wins, but how a patent office even approves/compares any of this is beyond me.

  1. ender

    Joined: Dec 1969


    like iPhone?

    A) I really don't see how this is patentable...looks to me like filters and views. If anyone in the patent office ever worked in the real world, they would know that it's really not anything new

    B) I REALLY don't see how MacNN (er, I mean Electonista) can say this is at all iPhone-like. But at least they got their ad revenue off me from clicking on their link.

  1. UnCal

    Joined: Dec 1969



    they're even inconsistent in the way their diagrams are presented... they'll start putting aqua bubbles around the annotations next.

  1. Herod

    Joined: Dec 1969


    this is nothing new

    it was just a matter of time until M$ would come out with something that resembles a communication device. it wasnt good enough that 99 percent of cell phones use windows mobil. they are the walmart of technology.

  1. christhechris

    Joined: Dec 1969


    M$ = walmart ?what?

    I was under the impression that walmart sold things cheaper then everyone else though....

  1. Darwiniandude

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not the same

    See in the patent 'screen shot' the square button between NEW and MORE? The iPhone has this square symbol on it's home button, but the button is round, it's completely different. Oh, and see how they've put the time in the upper left, and signal strength in the upper right? Apple has it the other way around. Just like default windows installs have the trash in the upper left of the screen.

  1. tc1000

    Joined: Dec 1969



    It must be kinda frustrating for Microsoft, constantly playing catch-up with Apple.

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