updated 10:40 am EDT, Thu September 25, 2008
Apple Safari patents
Newly-published patent applications may point to enhancements in Safari 4 or other versions of Apple's web browser. Originally submitted earlier this year, the filings depict two different browser-based technologies, beginning with the concept of a visual history. Apple notes that most browsers display history as a straight list of pages, something which may be "confusing." The company also comments that relying on forward and back buttons can be "cumbersome," and that histories may incorporate files not meant for web browsers.
The proposed alternative is a tree diagram, depicting the links between particular pages. "Roots" in the history would consist of pages manually visited by a user; off of this would spawn branches, representing pages clicked within a tab or window. Much like Apple's Time Machine utility, users would also have access to a time shifter, and on top of this could be sliders for tweaking the scale and depth of visible trees.
The second patent addresses a problem common to "browsers other than Internet Explorer," Apple writes, in which the software is forced to locate a plug-in needed to launch a media file. If a plug-in is not already installed, browsers like Safari will typically refuse to launch the file.
The Apple answer would be to have Safari examine metadata in a file, and either display the file through an alternative format, or install plug-ins automatically as required. Metadata could also be used to gauge factors like bitrate, in turn allowing media to be shown in a preferred form.