updated 11:40 am EST, Thu December 16, 2010
Current Cover Flow too inefficient, says Apple
Two notable patent applications by Apple have been published by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The first, User Interface for Media Playback, relates to the Cover Flow interface used in iTunes as well as iPods and iPhones. The filing is in fact critical of the technology's current implementation, commenting that because of the size of icons, it's only possible to see "about one or two files before and after the selected file."
Apple's main solution, AppleInsider notes, is a spiral, in diagrams controlled explicitly through a touch-based interface. Album art for a currently-playing song would be represented by the topmost icon. Icons for subsequent tracks could be made to shrink as they go down the spiral, making more efficient use of space.
In the case of a playlist Apple suggests that touch commands could be used to drag tracks into a different order, or create a new playlist entirely. One proposed alternative to a spiral is a cascading arrangement. Album art would still shrink progressively, though, as it goes deeper into a collection.
The other patent, Fiber-Based Electronic Device Structures, documents a particular method of making parts. "Fibers may be intertwined using computer-controlled braiding, weaving, and knitting equipment," Apple writes, adding that in some cases binding materials may be used. Many different part types can theoretically be produced, including various parts of headphones, and housings for computers and other devices.
These parts could also take on different qualities, as necessary. Some could serve as antenna windows, while others might either block or permit sound. Similarly, portions of a structure could be made rigid or flexible. Both of the patent applications were originally submitted in 2009.