Apple has applied for a patent on an image editing process that combines zooming, panning, straightening, and cropping into a single function. Although the patent application’s claims are not limited to touch input, the process, and Apple’s illustrations of it, are perfectly suited to multi-touch image manipulation on touch-enabled devices like the iPad.
The patent application, titled “Multifunctional Environment for Image Cropping,” describes how several image manipulation functions can be combined into one process to prevent a user from having to perform multiple edits.
Usually, a user applies zoom, pan and straighten transformations prior to and independently of cropping the image. In that fashion, the user iteratively applies the rotation (or zoom or pan) and crop functions repeatedly, as part of a trial-and-error process...
Technologies described in this specification can be used to combine the crop function with zoom, pan and straighten functions as part of a single cropping environment, such that a user can select a portion of an image for cropping, apply zoom, pan and straighten transformations to the selected image portion and then crop the transformed image portion in a single utility...
By using the disclosed technologies, the user can see what an output cropped image would look like once straighten, zoom or pan functions followed by the crop function are applied to an image, and can refine the end-result in one cropping step.
As mentioned above, the process described in the application mirrors that already in use by photo editing applications on iOS devices. With a finger and thumb gesture, users can zoom, straighten, pan, and temporarily crop images at will until the desired manipulation is achieved.
Should it be granted, the patent would also strengthen Apple’s hold on multi-touch related intellectual property for use in its many ongoing patent infringement lawsuits.
The patent application was filed July 12, 2011 before being published today. It lists Apple employees Nikhil Bhatt and Tim Cherna as inventors.