Patent application reveals Apple focused on advancing iOS metaphors to a higher level

“On August 11, 2011, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals one of the possible next chapters for Apple’s iOS,” Jack Purcher reports for Patently Apple. “Apple’s patent application focuses on advancing iOS metaphors to a higher level.”

“In this application we see that Apple is working on new ways of working with a 3D user interface,” Purcher reports. “One example shows us that a user will be able to creatively design a hole, tunnel or even a trap door in their UI that could send files to their work or home office like a portal in seconds. In the not-too-distant future, a user will be able to shred documents on their iOS devices by simply using a new shredding gesture. And if that wasn’t enough, users will be able to one day create 3D objects with a simple finger gesture.”

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Purcher reports, “Considering that OS X Lion just introduced iOS-like features into our desktop experience, we’re likely to see some of these future metaphors spill over to our desktops as well. Just when Apple’s competition thought that they’ve safely figured out how to copy the iOS experience, we see that Apple is preparing to take iOS to the next level.”

Much more, including Apple’s patent application illustrations, in the full article here.


  1. I wasn’t shredding, just warding off the killer bees!

    Seriously what’s so difficult about dropping icons on another icon?

    3D for the sake of it is just another gimmick – witness the Nintendo 3Ds not exactly setting the world abuzz.

  2. This is what the top tech company does. It never stops innovating and driving competitors CRAZY with patents. I love it! I like the shredder. I shred everything and so this appeals to me for sure.

  3. “3D for the sake of it is just another gimmick – witness the Nintendo 3Ds not exactly setting the world abuzz.”
    Uh, we’re not talking silly games here, we’re talking about desktops with apparent ‘depth’ that you can ‘burrow’ into, pretty much the ‘cyberspace’ as imagined by William Gibson in ‘Neuromancer’.

    1. 3D! Now we just need Apple to repeat itself like it did in the dawn of the DTP era by introducing amazing and affordable laser printers – now they need to do it again with 3D printers!

  4. Funny how even after all these years people try to take down Apple’s ideas at such an early age. Not all ideas come to fruition (can’t think of any at the moment, but I’m sure there are), but whether this one happens or not, is this particular idea that far of a stretch? I’m neither for it or against it right now, but at least I can see the possibilities of it making things simpler and more intuitive. Kinda like Graphic User Interfaces changed things I think this will build on that, either in a big or small way it really doesn’t matter. My opinion is it will become big. They may release small gimmicky examples at first and may even make mistakes at it, but always with the goal of perfecting something “bigger and better”. Not sure we can see the big 3D picture yet, but judging by Apple’s past products I’m gonna make a calculated guess and say they probably can.

    1. agreed…totally….it makes me damn glad that the fault-finders have absolutely nothing to do with apple’s dreams, plans, implementation into systems, execution.
      I’ve always wondered if these same people have ever created, from start to finish, anything that went into public usage. my limited experience has taught me it’s a lot easier to sit on the fence and find fault, but it’s a lot more challenging and rewarding to be in the arena slugging it out.

  5. Every product that Apple makes, every upgrade to software and hardware is covered to the eyeballs in patents. So this crap that they not many patents make it to market is plain and simple stupid. All I hear are whiners. I’m sure glad Apple protects their work because that’s how they get injunctions and win lawsuits to protect their original work. Go Apple!

    1. True. And as I pointed out here on MDN at the time that Leopard was previewed that the new Dock appearance, Time Machine, and the deeper (ie. more offset) drop shadows on the windows were all subtle first steps toward creating a 3D GUI.

  6. Bait whore. Nobody has seen any patents prior to any real products Apple has ever released. The only reason it’s being patented is because Apple doesn’t think they’ll ever use it. That doesn’t stop yet another dim analyst predicting we’ll all be digging into the desktop like pseudo kitty litter.

    1. “The only reason it’s being patented is because Apple doesn’t think they’ll ever use it.”

      And the reason that iPhone has its 271 patents is that so little is expected of it.

      Wait, are you saying that they filed too late?

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