back to article Prepare for Apple's self-resizing iPhone interface

Apple has filed a patent that could see the iPhone and iPod touch interfaces adjust the size of their elements in response to motion. The filing, entitled Variable Device Graphical User Interface, describes a self-adjusting user interface that would make it easier to hit the right touch-screen commands when walking, jogging, …


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  1. Nir
    Thumb Up

    Why not?

    It's not an obvious idea; it's definitely useful. I'm kind of kicking myself for not thinking of it myself. They deserve a patent. I've never seen this as prior art before (though GPS systems sometimes zoom out when you go fast and zoom in when you go slow - this is not exactly the same thing)

    Kudos to Apple I say. This will make their device more usable.

  2. Eddy Ito
    Thumb Up

    Easing the danger

    Perhaps Apple could call this new trick "iDaggering" as it certainly removes the danger of snapping one's todger with a misguided... umm... gesture.

  3. beattz
    Thumb Up


    Although I do wonder how well it would integrate (if at all) with 3rd party apps. Could be difficult to design a UI that zooms gracefully the way Apple intends.

  4. David M Franks


    Yeah... I gotta admit - grudgingly - that it's a very cool idea... now I can text on a rollercoaster, hurrah

  5. Luis Ogando
    Paris Hilton

    Good Idea

    I like it. Although I'm never in a position to use a touchscreen when I'm jiggling around too much (running?? come on..!) it would be good for using interfaces of this type on buses, cars, turbulent 'plane trips, etc.

    @Nir - True, my SatNav zooms in and out, but not the buttons. Damn annoying when you want to change a route on the go (or my passenger does, obviously, Officer...). Perhaps as more and more aircraft get fitted with glass cockpits (monitors instead of instrument dials) this technology could move on a step.

    Paris, 'cos she's got something that gets wider as you jiggle it about (fnaar).

  6. CeeJay

    This is fantastic!

    Now I'll be able to call my therapist while driving my SUV down I-95 with a cup of Starbucks in my other hand! No more accidentally dialling my ex-wife - and that's a good thing because phone calls are included in her restraining order!

    Thanks Apple, you're the best!

  7. Michael
    Thumb Up

    Obvious idea

    where is the novelty? As the first poster says this is an obvious idea. Not patentable.

  8. Anonymously Deflowered

    Now why didn't I think of that

    Such a simple and elegant solution to a problem that I hadn't even realised existed until now. I hope the patent doesn't prevent the idea being used by other companies because much as I'd like to, I can't bring myself to love Apple.

  9. richard
    Jobs Halo


    "In typical Apple-patent inclusiveness".....err you mean futureproofing for any new devices that may come are trying to protect themselves and their own products and patents, oh how disgraceful, how DARE they!

  10. Gerard Krupa

    Prior Art

    In breaking news, Apple is sued by 'physics' which designed a system whereby when you move forwards all user interface components of the 'world' application that are in front of you automatically get larger.

  11. Shades

    A serious of words by which to be able to refer to this post (i.e. a "title")

    Do the patent writers get paid by the word or something?

    "A handheld computer, a personal digital assistant, a cellular telephone, a network appliance, a camera, a smart phone, an enhanced general packet radio service (EGPRS) mobile phone, a network base station, a media player, a navigation device, an email device, a game console, or a combination of any two or more of these data processing devices or other data processing devices"

    Surely "Any electronic device, portable or otherwise, with a graphic user interface" would have suffice?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds a bit...

    .. obvious and trivial to me, so will of course be granted in the great US patent office because they are the best patent office in the world and they never grant anything that doesn't deserve it no, of course not.

  13. Frank

    @Nir re. Why not?

    You say that Apple 'deserve' a patent, just for thinking of it? As you said, you're kicking yourself for not thinking of it yourself (because it's so simple and it is obvious with hindsight I would suppose)

    I disagree that they 'deserve' to have this idea protected by a patent. The motion sensor is just another sensor that the equipment has built into it. All they have done is to say 'hey, we can use the motion sensor as a form of user input to control how the device works'. In this, the motion sensor is no different from a pushbutton, a touchscreen, a slider control or similar input device. Previous applications have used a motion sensor to control track selection of music files. Once you get beyond 'using a motion sensor as a user input', everything else is just application ideas and UI control software. Clever and useful yes; deserving of patent protection - no.

  14. A. H. O. Thabeth

    @ beattz

    Patents sever a number of purposes; among them stopping other people doing it.

    Many patents are filed, because a company has tried something but found a better idea. If you patent both ideas then the completion has to develop a third and more likely worse idea.

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns


    I can't WAIT! I must buy lots and lots of them!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I'm sorry, but...

    ... that's a really excellent idea. No, there's no sarcasm there- that's just plain clever.

    This is what I think people expect from Apple- a good simple idea which (should) implement well.

    I can see this being a "how did we never think of this before" thing for a great many of their competitors and users.

    (I had a winmo samsung a year back that was effectively unusable because the buttons on screen were far too small to be used except sitting a desk- even the vibrations on a train turned it into a hit-and-miss nightmare)

  18. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    I like this.

    It actually looks useful. I suggest they call it iCompensateforclumsypeople

  19. James

    Next stage....

    .. to detect if the user has sight problems and zoom automatically as needed for different users, varying eye problems !

  20. James

    5 icons in the dock?

    Don't you have to jailbreak to get that?

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Viral Advertising

    In days of old huge adverts would be made bold

    Of the new features and gimicks, we all could see

    Were but... enhancements for you and me.

    Now with the crunch of cash, and cost of google

    its much quicker to make a doodle,

    Patent application costs are low...

    reap viral marketing of seeds you did sow

    Without making it a PCO.

    Competitors cannot patent the same idea

    Your patent application was the first,

    Google search, cache the idea here!

    And what about the patent troll?

    Without them...

    ... life would be so dull!

  22. Shades


    There I was trying to be all clever and stuff but ruined it by, unfathomably, typing "serious" instead of "series".

  23. rod
    Thumb Down

    has been done before, and is in the public domain...

    I'd be surprised if they can get that due to prior activity in this area. E.g. ' The effects of bias and x, y correlation in tapping errors can be systematically compensated for in real time, improving the tapping accuracy. This information can also be used to automatically adapt screen layout to walking speed, simplifying and spreading out the targets as the speed increases.'


    A. Crossan, R. Murray-Smith, S. Brewster, J. Kelly, B. Musizza, Gait Phase Effects in Mobile Interaction, CHI 2005, Portland.

    And lots of academics were discussing that sort of thing long before that publication...

  24. Rob

    ok, so now users will be tempted

    .. to take the phone out whilst bouncing around, thus increasing tenfold the number of units returned after being dropped on the pavement. good thinking!!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Not convinced

    surely you'd swing it out of your pocket, go to press a small icon,

    only to have a big icon appear as you press it.

    Then while jogging on big icon mode you'll go to press a bigger button but without thinking about it you've stopped because even with bigger text it's hard to read and suddenly you've pressed half a dozen buttons all at once.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    When you're bouncing up and down it makes things bigger?

    Anyone else think this sounds so incredibly wrong?

  27. Mark Wills


    ...but not an invention. Merely an idea.

    <-- Nokia 6310i

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