updated 06:25 pm EST, Thu December 2, 2010
Can be used with both mouse and finger
A recent patent application by Apple brought to light by UnwiredView shows the company doing further research into the concept of pop-up menus in a radial arrangement, a concept that could expand user options while still manageable by simple gestures. The new "radial" menus follow on from an earlier patent exploring the use of "spiraling" menus to expand options or level of detail.
The use of a circular motion is ideal for touchscreen devices and allows "contextual menus" to offer more choices without using any additional screen real estate. The most common commands or options could be initially offered, but replaced with further detail or options when the user makes a circular motion with their finger. When the desired option or level of detail is reached, a linear gesture or tap could choose the option.
The application, simply entitled "Radial Menus," also describes how radial menus can be more efficiently selected with a pointing device like a mouse over the current "move to menubar to select standard features" model found in all three major operating systems today. Whether the concept might replace the "menubar" idea or just act as a new version of "contextual" or "right-click" type menus isn't made clear.
As with other such technology companies, Apple's moving to patent particular techniques or ideas is not necessarily an indication that the concept will actually be incorporated into current or future products. [via UnwiredView]