updated 05:15 pm EDT, Tue March 27, 2012
Tech already used in many third-party titles
Tweetie developer Loren Brichter, now with Twitter, has a US patent application in review for the pull-to-refresh gesture common in many touchscreen apps, reports note. To get around the interface limitations of some devices, many apps -- such as the Facebook iOS app, or Twitter clients -- will let users "drag" a portion of the interface down to force a feed refresh. Some apps use the same gesture to trigger different commands.
If granted, Brichter's application would cover any app with a similar gesture/command system, regardless of the command it triggered. The filing was first made on April 8th, just a day before Brichter announced that his former company, atebits, was being acquired by Twitter. It's unknown if Twitter can claim any rights to the patent, but the company's official iOS app also relies on pull-to-refresh.
The application could be defeated by prior art. Apps have been using the gesture for some time, and could predate Brichter's work.