Apple Patent Application Shows Scrollable Menus & Toolbars

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A new patent application from Apple hints at scrollable menus and toolbars in future versions of Mac OS X and iOS. The company filed the patent in Europe, according to a report from PatentlyApple, and while nothing in the patent ties the inventions to Apple’s upcoming Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion,” speculation on the Internet quickly leapt to the idea that they will indeed make a maned appearance.

The basic idea behind the inventions is that pulldown menus and toolbars don’t have to show all their available options at one time. The patent application shows different methods of scrolling, including touch-based methods and mouse-based methods, as well as different kinds of menu formats, from pulldowns to circular coverflow-like menus.

The two images below show three figures from Apple’s patent application. The first two figures demonstrates side-scrolling menus in Mac OS X and iOS. The second figure demonstrates the idea of scrollable circular menus.

The patent was filed as an International Patent Application in Europe during the second quarter of 2010, and it was published on November 4th. PatentlyApple has several more images and an in-depth look at the details of the patent.

Apple Patent Figure

Figures 19 and 21 showing scrollable menus in Mac OS X and iOS
Source: PatentlyApple

Apple Patent Figure

Figure 14, demonstrating circular menus
Source: PatentlyApple



If I’m not mistaken the PS3 already uses that circular menu in Figure 14.  Or at least it uses one that scrolls sideways first and up-down second.  I’m sure I’ve seen a circular version of that in some game…


Apple is famous for their innovations, such as iPad, the first tablet and app store the feature that difficult to ape by their rivals. They are able to create strong products and have a solid fundation of 3rd-party app creators’ support(iFunia or Aneesoft).


Interesting thing but the question is if it will be more useful than earlier versions. It seems to me that new innovations are made only for improving of design, not for comfortable work of users.

Has been done... I did it like 5 years ago

and I have proof w/ dates and developers who can confirm this.


Bryan Chaffin

That’s nowhere near as comprehensive as what Apple’s patent application covers, but it’s super cool! It’s a great effect, and very intuitive.

The movie he links to is a demonstration of a circular contextual menu. I didn’t see anything downloading in the background when I clicked through to it, for those concerned. smile

Orb... release coming

The movie sample from a product I am developing… is coming as a product for OS X within a month timeframe.

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