Perhaps a dark day for Android and other modern smartphone operating systems, Apple has just been granted a patent, filed back in 2007, covering the disappearing scroll bar present on most devices. That's the one that appears as a little vertical line when we scroll on a document or website that subsequently vanishes when our finger is removed.
Likewise, Apple has also been granted patents covering many aspects of the modern touch-screen UI including blogging, camera, email, telephone, video player, notes calendar, browser, widgets, search, maps and most importantly, a multi-touch interface, covering lists and navigation.
It's believed that Apple is likely to use these new patents as sure win cannon fodder in future patent battles. Though we can't vouch for the US courts however, back in 2007, this writer remembers playing with the idea of scroll-bars that vanished when the mouse was moved away in websites (and remembering that for a mouse this was very annoying!). Likewise, though certainly there are a few touch button placements with questionable similarity to Android, the patent covering list navigation appears very much a natural touch extension of a Windows Vista task-bar or thumbnail display on a PC, with a vanishing top-bar rather like the vanishing start bar, only with a different context for its activation.
We have no doubt some elements of these patents could spell trouble for Android, though over on this side of the pond at least, they're unlikely to be OS destroying, with many of the patents seemly the natural extension of what's possible on a smartphone with faster hardware and a multi-touch capacitive screen. Meanwhile Apple is attracting increased flack from firms such as HTC, riding high on recent victories, the firm, now armed with patents obtained from HP covering embedded networks in counter-suing Apple, reminding the firm that their innovations and successes were also built on several decades of innovations from others, who perhaps weren't so eager to sue everyone that used every little piece of their past work.
When will this madness end?