In addition to Appleis patent application on a dial-enabled mouse described in todayis Devilis Advocate column, two other Apple patent applications have been published by the USPTO on April 24, 2003. Apple filed for a patent application for an "Intelligent interaction between media player and host computer" on October 21, 2002. The abstract states:
Improved techniques for interaction between a host computer (e.g., personal computer) and a media player are disclosed. According to one aspect, interaction between a host computer and a media player, such as automatic synchronization of media contents stored on a media player with media contents stored on a host computer, can be restricted. According to another aspect, management of media items residing on a media player can be performed at and by a host computer for the media player. According to still another aspect, media content can be played by a media player in accordance with quality settings established for the media content at the host computer.
This seems to be a patent application basically covering the one-way synchronization between iTunes and the iPod that we are already familiar with and is already in place. Though the iPod was announced on October 23rd of 2001, US patent law allows the filing of patents up to one year after a product has been announced.
In another patent application, we do see something new from the company. Apple apparently thinks that the iPod dial is such a great device for accelerating scrolling that it looks like the company may be considering using it elsewhere. On September 26, 2002, Apple filed a patent application for a "Method and apparatus for accelerated scrolling." The abstract states:
Improved approaches for users to with graphical user interfaces of computing devices are disclosed. A rotational user action supplied by a user via a user input device can provide accelerated scrolling. The accelerated nature of the scrolling enables users to scroll or traverse a lengthy data set (e.g., list of items) faster and with greater ease. The amount of acceleration provided can be performed in successive stages, and/or performed based on the speed of the rotational user action. In one embodiment, the rotational user action is transformed into linear action with respect to a graphical user interface. The resulting acceleration effect causes the linear action to be enhanced such that a lengthy data set is able to be rapidly traversed.
Illustration image included in patent application
Although the application generally deals with accelerating scrolling in graphical user interfaces by using the dial as an input device, Apple shows the dial may be found on keyboards. Also mentioned earlier on TMO through todayis Devilis Advocate column, Apple filed for a patent for a rotary scrolling mouse device. Itis important to note, however, that patent applications are not always granted, and that filing for a patent does not necessarily mean that Apple is intending to release a product based on the technology.