Apple patent app details 3D Mac OS X user interface

“A series of Apple patent filings published this week reveal the Mac maker has spent a considerable amount of time outlining a new multi-dimensional interface for Mac OS X that would make better use of screen real estate by increasing the number of virtual surfaces capable of housing application and interface elements,” Slash Lane reports for AppleInsider.

“The most extensive of those filings is labeled “Multi-Dimensional Desktop” and was submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office back in June of last year, around the same time the company took the wraps off the feature set for its upcoming release of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard,” Lane reports. “None of the latest interface enhancements described in the June patent are present in current pre-release builds of Snow Leopard, however, suggesting they’ll be candidates for inclusion in versions of Mac OS X that would surface in years to come.”

“Generally speaking, the filings depict a 3D interface by which side walls, a top, and a floor all protrude from a back surface that resembles today’s two-dimensional Mac OS X desktop. A few examples also suggest a radical departure from traditional interface design by which the Mac OS X menubar would be removed from the top of the screen and thrown into a stack or floating element.,” Lane reports.

read the full article, with many illustrations from the patent application, here.


  1. Great eye candy, and it might be fun, but what will it add to usability and productivity? I think it will wait until really large screen territory becomes really cheap. I would not want my work viewing area decreased to accommodate all the extra interface elements.

  2. As Spaces and Exposé have been really popular, I can see the logic in expanding that to a 3D interface. However, at present it would have to be optional and also would be a bad thing for a 13″ MacBook, with very little screen that could be dedicated to this. Or, is Steve thinking that we should hook up to the Cinema Displays? But I can’t afford one! Oh no! Never mind though… naturally there will be a solution.

  3. You could see a 3-D desktop coming with the changes to the Dock and the menu bar in Leopard and with the introduction of Time Machine. This is the logical next step.

    The advantage of a 3-D desktop is increased screen real estate – not less as Berrylium suggests. Just look at the drawings in the Appleinsider article to see what I mean.

  4. How many patent applications that have been seen here and other similar sites have ever made it to market?
    My personal favorite was the screen with the camera in between the pixels.

  5. IMO it’s just a patent and probably won’t be on any products anytime soon, or at least, not for the current interface of the Mac OS. You can’t possibly have an interface where the menu bar is not at the top, because that would have Apple breaching its own human interface guidelines.

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