back to article Apple files 'Shake to Print' iOS patent application

Apple has filed a brace of patents that, in part, describe methods to control printing and print settings by having the user physically interact with their iOS device by "shaking, flipping, rotating, spinning, moving laterally or to follow a shape, or combinations of these." In US Patent and Trademark Office applications …


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  1. Jolyon Smith
    Thumb Down

    Game Over

    It's one of infinite number of variations on "Shake to ..." where "..." is whatever functionality you wish to dream up.

    The patentable technology is shake detection and notifications in software. What software does in response to a shake is not patentable, imho.

    If a patent is issued for this then it's game over man. Game over.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Game Over

      Cyanogen and I believe the Galaxy S have had "turn over to answer" features in the past. Shake detection shouldn't even be patentable; you can't patent shaking something. The United States of Patents is getting absurd. What is wrong with copyrighting the implementation? Why does everything need a patent?

      It's a good thing they've got PS3 controllers working with Android since getting into print settings looks funnily like how you'd control a driving based game.

      1. Mr_Bungle

        Re: Game Over

        I never made the connection, but everytime I shake my 'gentleman' after urinating, the nearest printer to the bathroom prints out a test page.

        I assume I owe Apple royalties, otherwise they will convince a Judge to take my penis off the market.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Game Over

        > Cyanogen and I believe the Galaxy S have had "turn over to answer" features in the past.

        Maemo has always had a "turn over to stop the phone ringing" feature.

    2. Shagbag


      There was an app in Andoird Marketplace called 'ShootMe' that used to take a screenshot of your mobile device when you shook it. I can't remember when 'Marketplace' switched over to 'Google Play' but I remember using ShootMe on a rooted HTC Wildfire/Buzz.

    3. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Game Over

      Even the "shake" detection would need to be very innovative and not just reading an off the shelf accelerometer.

      Who is worse?

      The idiots that file this stuff or the idiots that approve the patents.

      I would love to see Apple use some tiny part of their cash mountain for R&D. I'm fairly sure their current 2% is including the army of Patent Scribes.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Game Over

      Tired, Frustrated, Irritable, Need a root, read story of idiot patent - Inspires GREAT idea.

      I know - "Hammer on Screen" - I will patent that.

      It's the "Fucking turn off now" function.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hammer on Screen

        Plenty of prior art on that one I'm afraid. Dating back to old monochrome CRTs at least. For "turn off now", might I suggest the peeing on it gesture.

    5. Grikath

      Re: Game Over

      To prevent accidents it'll probably be combined with voice commands.

      Expect a fanboi waving his iFruit in the air shouting "printodocumentus!" somewhere near you soon.

  2. Alex Schneider

    Apple Patent Disclosure Procedure

    Select one item from column A, one item from column B...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple Patent Disclosure Procedure

      Sounds like it, though its a good method for making up quirky project names - see Ministry of Supply "Rainbow Codes" - it doesn't sound like a means to cover all eventualities.

      If Apple thought this one good enough to apply for a patent, what fantastical ideas are in the reject pile?

      Rather than shake, you ought to tilt the phone like a ball in a maze game. More fun.

      Time to put a stop to it all by putting Green Cheese through the window of Apples patent department. (sorry another Rainbow Code reference)

  3. Steve Carr 1

    Oh dear.....

    ....Samsung must be shaking in their boots!

    WTF are they smokin' in Cupertino?

    1. Thorne

      Re: Oh dear.....

      Now when you shake your iPad, you put into silent, turn on the flashlight and print, all at the same time.

  4. solidsoup

    Oh, shake the phone...

    I've had a few printers that had a setting set somewhere (I never managed to find it) that required this very action to be performed before printing would occur. I was about to inform them of prior art.

    Mine's the one with a cocktail shaker in the pocket.

  5. CmdrX3

    Prior Art

    I used to have to pick my old Epson printer up and give it a shake in order to get the fecking thing to print anything.

  6. FordPrefect

    It doesn't seem to me to be a great use of shake, now bringing up task manager that would be a great idea. Can't believe this is even patentable I mean how is it an innovation. I might patent Fart to unlock!

  7. someone up north

    who is for shaking steve job's coffin

    I will be patenting the idea of making a phone call by shaking Steve job's coffin, may be he has already patented

    the idea of kicking the bucket

  8. Mitoo Bobsworth

    In the Future...

    Everyone will look like they have some form of Tourette's Syndrome or Sydenham's Chorea (St Vitus Dance)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about HP or a fax manufacturer

    Imagine what they could do. You hit the printer or fax machine and it could delete the current print job, reset the printer, put it back on on-line mode, hang-up a call, etc. Good thing this wasn't used years ago or Office Space would never have been the classic it is.

  10. min


    ...some moron is going to allow this nonsense a free rein on proceedings.

    someone needs to stop this craziness.

  11. Eddy Ito

    reductio ad absurdum

    Once shake to vibrate to shows up, all their devices will get stuck in one infinite loop until the battery is completely flat.

    It's the codpiece with the iPhone in it.

  12. lambda_beta

    good stuff!

    If you drop into a toilet and it sinks it means that the printer is off-line or out of paper. Amazing!

  13. Esskay

    Presumably the incidence of late night "accidental" printing of porn will skyrocket...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, basically... shake your Apple device, and it deletes your most recent text, shuffles your music, and prints the result?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So, basically...

      it'll be fine because iOS still doesnt multitask very well :)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    dumb functionality and a dumb patent

    Do the designers at apple actually use their product? Shake to shuffle stays switched off on my iPod. It shuffles when I don't want it to such as during audiobooks and doesn't respond to shaking when I do. Its a righteous pain. I'm probably holding it wrong. I can't see this functionality being any more useful.

    1. MrZoolook
      Paris Hilton

      Re: dumb functionality and a dumb patent

      Quote: I'm probably holding it wrong.

      Apple already used holding a device to do different stuff on iPhone. Lay iPhone on table to use networking, hold iPhone to disconnect from network.

      Paris because she's disconnected.

  16. Thorne

    I'm going to patent the idea of shaking a device voids the warranty.


  17. Haku

    I thought all actions invloving shaking of a screen were patented by the Ohio Art Company.

    You know, the makers of the Etch A Sketch...

    1. Simon Harris
      Thumb Up

      Re: I thought all actions involving shaking of a screen were patented by the Ohio Art Company.

      The pocket version even has rounded corners.

  18. Rob Foster 1

    Prior Art

    I claim Prior Art on this one. Anyone remember Etch-A Sketch. Shake to Erase :)

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Prior Art

    Homosapians have been waving theirs hands around for over 60,000 years - and Apple are now patenting it?

    F***ing ridiculous.

  20. Big_Ted

    Does your warranty cover

    your having thrown the phone across a room (or just dropped) when it slipped out your hand whilst shaking it?

    I can see it now, some poor sod down the shiney building begging for their idevice to be fixed as it "was because of your stupid way of sending prints".......

  21. JaitcH

    Imagine all those joggers with iThingies strapped to ...

    their arms! What a scream, random prints all along their route.

    My new Brother printer latches on to anything WiFi or Bluetooth (as well as Ethernet and USB) so I'll have to protect it from passing iThingies.

    I saw an Apple owner shaking his thing, after he had dropped it, to see if there as anything loose inside. Whoops, there goes another print command!.

    Just how dumb can these patent apps get?

    1. Simon Harris

      Re: Imagine using your iPhone as a SatNav...

      and you're driving down cobbled streets or hit a pothole...

      The screen is obliterated with a pop-up message 'Error - can't find the printer!'

      Oh, no... I forgot, we're using Apple Maps...

      the message is more likely 'Error - can't find a bloody thing!'

  22. Monkey

    It smacks of a company desperate to make their products stand out in a now very, very crowded market place.

    They've 'won' (for now) a legal victory over Samsung but have likely had it dawn on them really quickly that it has done nothing to neuter the pace of handset release and development at their biggest rival, as they almost certainly intended it to do. As well as witness the resulting substantial moral backlash in the mainstream press. Both tech and non tech.

    I'd wager that all but the hardcore 'buy anything Apple' consumer will approach their purchases of handsets and tablets with moral factors now part of the buying agenda. As an iPad user who was due a recent handset upgrade I can honestly say any serious consideration of the new iPhone went out the window because of this. I’m not alone in now feeling dubious about Apple I would imagine.

    I know I'm just the singular and don't claim I know what everyone is thinking, but I'd bet good money that this recent patent application is Apple going down the gimmick route. Try and stand out in a crowded market place to get the attention of novelty whores when their competitors now bringing knives to the fight and not just their tech which has more than caught up with the march Apple stole on them all.

    Personally I think 'innovations' like this will do nothing but devalue their brand even more than their recent behaviour as a corporation and the 'missed a classic opportunity to innovate again-what was all the fuss about' epic fail that iOS6 is.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      re: substantial moral backlash in the mainstream press

      I've not seen that. All I've seen is a load of "Apple win patent case over Samsung" articles. Those who look will find the evidence that Apple are likely to lose this case in the end, but for those reading the "mainstream press", in the UK at least, the trial is being portrayed as a massive victory for Apple.

  23. Whiznot

    Next Apple will patent fart to convert format.

  24. Eat Pineapple

    It's the Mactini...

    Reading this, I just couldn't help thinking of the 'Mactini' UI:

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "shake iPhone in a horizontal motion, with a slight downward tilt to the end of the motion, in order to instruct a remote robotic arm to bring you the salt cellar."

    "Tap iPhone against the printer in order to print the device on that document" - I thought it was a nice idea but flawed in two respects ... one that you want to waste the energy to go to the printer only after your document has had the chance to print and ... two ... the iPhone doesn't have NFC.

    What next? - ElReg, can we have a "popcorn" icon please?

  26. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    At least one actually useful dimension

    If you can turn the device landscapewise to have print come out in landscape page orientation, and portraitwise for portrait orientation, then that's useful, particularly for stupid peosple using the device. But I don't know if it should be patented. And it was probably already done years ago on computer monitors with a landscape-portrait pivot. Including Macs.

    If it's just random shaking, and not gestures in space, then what if you get hiccups?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    too much shakin'

    Shaking iPads suits fanbois. They are all wankers!

    Damn, just sent the porn pic I was viewing to the office printer!

  28. Gordon 8


    Does this mean we can't 'shake' our toner carts to get the last of the toner out of them?

    The ground around 1 infinite loop needs to do some serious shaking to fix this....

  29. Alan Denman

    Anyone got the shake to have a crap patent yet?

    Obviously not spending a penny become quite sterling if you have eaten a bad apple.

    And obviously the Andorid lot are the constipated bunch.

  30. Purlieu

    Time for the ....


    when you shake the iDevice, the image get's longer and fatter, and if you carry on and speed up a bit, something else happens

    you can customise with different skin tones, lengths, girths etc

    sound effects optional

    should be a hit with the ladies

  31. Simon Harris

    Prior art on shake functions - Shake to Shut Up...

    It may have been in bad taste, but does anyone remember the iPhone Baby Shaker application that Apple banned from the App Store a few years ago?

  32. Simon Harris

    This Ole House

    The prototype was developed when Jobs was still alive, and installed on his iPhone.

    The project was being discussed at an Apple board meeting, and the phone was going around the table to let people try it out when Tim Cook turned up rather late. Curious as to why everyone was vigorously manipulating the phone he asked what on earth was going on.

    To which one board member replied... 'I'm Shakin' Steven's'

  33. Derek Law

    I'll think what I want

    I've observed this annoying journalist tic in articles by Americans (mainly because I have to) but I'd like to think standards in this country are higher and, besides, I can complain here:

    ".. that since some devices – think iPhones and iPads – have a relatively small display .."

    Please, stop doing this RIGHT NOW before it gets out of hand.

  34. Peter Stone


    Do you think Apple are ready for the rsi & tennis elbow law suits this might generate?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ...really shouldn't be able to patent this kind of bollocks.

  36. Gradivus

    Why is Apple so slavish to gimmicks these days?

    I've been an admirer of Apple products for very many years now (though my attitude is much too down-to-earth to describe myself as a fanboy).

    But in recent years, much of what Apple has introduced are gimmicks pure and simple. I'd so liked to have been a fly on the wall when some numpty said "I know, let's invest lots of costly programming resources introducing a shake-to-print feature". And the other creatures-from-another-planet in the room said, "Wow. What a good idea". The whole thing is on a par with the 1970s Allegro (for the benefit of US readers, the Allegro was a UK car with a square steering wheel. I kid you not).

    My own pet hate - in iOS55 and earlier there was a refresh button for emails. Simple, so very intuitive that it was blindingly obvious. But iOS6? Drag the screen down refresh. Obscure, not remotely intuitive, probably destined to remain undiscovered by most users for years.

    For heavens sake, Apple, ditch the gimmicks and give us some real improvements. I'd rather have 5 real innovations than 500 gimmicks.

    Don't get het up about patents. I mean, who the £%*@ would want to copy this idea?

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wouldn't their time be better spent actually getting iDevices to work with 99% of printers, rather than some silly gesture to get the printing to not work?

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