This week Apple had a total of 34 patents issued, including four design patents and a number of patents focusing on improvements to user interfaces on various Apple devices, such as a design patent on an icon (see bottom). Other patents obtained by Apple protect a new method of removing blemishes while still maintaining image quality and an illuminable laptop latch.
U.S. Patent No. 8385681
This patent represents a fairly substantial improvement to image editing processes, which has long been a staple of Apple systems. Graphic designers are able to retouch images in a number of ways already through computer software. However, removing unwanted marks and other blemishes from an image can be a burden as current blemish removal tools do not distinguish between different textures within an image. A user can take out a mark from an image, but if that mark crosses the boundary between two colors, those colors typically blend together and negatively impact image clarity.
Apple has created a new blemish removal tool for image editing software protected by this patent that does a much better job at preserving different image textures while removing unwanted marks. Apple’s description of this patent insists that the tool can maintain a picture’s integrity even if more than one texture edge occurs within the blemish removal area.
In this patent document, Claim 1 protects:
“A method for removing blemishes from an image, the method comprising: providing a display area for displaying an image; and providing a blemish removal tool for removing blemishes from the image by: receiving a selection of an area of said image; identifying a plurality of candidate edge intersects along a perimeter of the selected area; examining different pairs of candidate edge intersects to identify at least two edge intersects that have a plurality of attributes that meet a plurality of criteria; defining an edge between the two identified edge intersects that divides the area into two interior sub-areas; interpolating color values on the edge between the two identified edge intersects based on color values of the edge intersects between which the edge is defined; and using the interpolated color values of the edge to modify the plurality of color values in each sub-area independently from each other sub-area to remove a blemish from the image.”
Computer Interface Having a Virtual Single-Layer Mode for Viewing Overlapping Objects
U.S. Patent No. 8386956
The need to develop improvements to the user interface of computer systems often arises simply because the system itself is much more powerful than before. The ability of computers to process more data means that users can leave multiple programs running at the same time and multitask with them. However, each program running is typically attached to a window. When many programs run at once, the number of open windows can become cumbersome to a user trying to navigate.
The system protected by Apple in this patent document automatically rearranges the windows in a user’s computer screen to display as much information as possible, resizing the windows if necessary. The system is activated manually by a user; the resizing system is available to all Apple computer users, but is not used as a default.
As Claim 1 describes, Apple is protecting:
“A method of displaying windows in a user interface for a computer, comprising the steps of: displaying a plurality of windows in a first view at respective sizes and positions, wherein at least one window can obscure another window; in response to a command, repositioning said windows in a second view to ensure that at least a portion of each of said plurality of windows is visible to a user; in response to selection of any of said plurality of windows in said second view, returning the windows to the respective sizes and positions they had in said first view; and displaying said selected window at the forefront of said plurality of windows upon returning to said first view.”
Mobile Computing Device with Adaptive Response Based on Accessory Firmware
U.S. Patent No. 8386652
Portable media devices, like the iPod and iPad, are designed with ports to connect with auxiliary equipment, like computers or speakers. Many of these connections work as simple inputs or outputs. For example, a speaker cable receives an output signal from a device that allows an audio track to be played by the speakers. This transmission is a one-way process, but these devices often connect to systems that allow for more interactivity.
Apple has protected a system of firmware detection that allows a device to react to a peripheral equipment connection. The device analyzes the firmware present on the connected equipment and prepares itself to access the functions utilized by the peripheral equipment. Apple hopes that this system will make it easier for a user to connect and use his device by lowering the degree of technical difficulty required to interface different devices.
Claim 1 of this patent document describes:
“A method comprising, by a mobile computing device: receiving identification information from an accessory coupled to the mobile computing device; identifying, based on the identification information, firmware being executed by the accessory; determining, based on the firmware, a resource that the accessory is most likely to request by querying a predictive analytics data store; preparing the resource for the accessory prior to receiving a request for the resource; and making the resource available to the accessory in response to a request for the resource from the accessory.”
Laptop devices are configured during manufacture to either support inputs from peripheral equipment, like digital cameras. Increasingly, laptop manufacturers are including these devices as components of thecomputer. In many cases, digital cameras are installed directly above the monitor unit of a laptop. This allows a computer user to interact with others through video conferencing without having to connect peripheral equipment.
However, the availability of space, both for the external component and the internal electronic connections required, is always a constraint.
Apple’s system of manufacturing laptops with on-board digital cameras, protected by this patent, installs the camera as part of the laptop’s locking mechanism. This mechanism holds the top and bottom halves of a laptop together when it is closed. When the laptop is open, the latch flips upward to position the internal camera directly at the user.
Claim 1 of this intellectual property patent protects:
“A portable computer, comprising: a base containing a processor, the processor configured to monitor a status of an event associated with the portable computer; a lid pivotally coupled to the base, the lid containing a display operatively coupled the processor; a latch for securing the lid to the base, wherein the latch is coupled to the lid, the latch having a symbol illumination system operatively coupled to the processor, the symbol illumination system including a side-firing light emitting diode (LED) disposed within a housing of the latch for illuminating a symbol on an illuminable portion of the latch, wherein the processor causes the side-firing LED to produce an illumination characteristic corresponding to a status of the monitored event; and a database for storing the illumination characteristic and the corresponding monitored event status.”
Display Screen or Portion Thereof With Graphical User Interface
Apple has a long history of protecting the program icons and designs displayed through the graphical user interface of their electronic devices. This week, the electronic device manufacturer received three different design patents under the same title. Each of these patent documents protects a screen image displayed for various media applications on Apple’s handheld devices.
The ‘858 patent protects a graphical user interface that displays banner-style notifications to iPhone users. The ‘866 patent protects an iPod status bar for media playback; the schematic images clearly show the play, fast forward and rewind buttons, among others. The ‘868 patent protects an icon that allows a user to toggle to camera mode. Claim 1 of each of these design patents protects, “the ornamental design for a display screen or portion thereof with graphical user interface, as shown and described.”