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Old August 30 2012, 07:55 AM   #32
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Re: Apple vs. Samsung Trial

381 and 915 are only fair if you don't consider the fact that they shouldn't have been patentable in the first place. Both are patently absurd.

381 – it should be given credit for that only patent listed that makes me go, “hm, you might have something in there... ”. However, that quickly disappears once you consider why the feature is there and what are the alternatives.

If you're writing a small touch-screen UI, you want to have a perceivable distinction between end of the page and a hanged application. There is a limited number of ways to do this – visible scroll bar, whole page animation, vibration/sound, visual indication around the finger and visual indication (e.g. monochrome or blur effect) for hung apps. Only the first two strike me as intuitive. If you let someone patent one of them, you're essentially taking out the best option for any UI designer, whether they've come up with it themselves or seen it elsewhere. And it sure looks more like a natural choice than a big ingenuity.

I've tried to write some applications for a touch-screen back in the day with hacked-in scrolling, and the need for some indication is as obvious as it can get, because they are painful to test. As for the choice of UI metaphor:
1. This one is directly lifted from real life.
2. It's so obvious that in certain implementations of finger scrolling it can happen by accident. I swear the first time I saw it in an app, I thought it was a bug.
3. It's the same thing that happens when you're alt-dragging an overly tall window in X11 and have the right kind of snapping enabled. What's the difference between dragging a tall object and scrolling?
4. I have some memory of seeing it elsewhere before the iPhone, and I'm positive it was in a video game, but don't quote me on this. If it wasn't for scrolling, it was for pushing or dragging something.
5. The only sane alternative that doesn't pollute screen space is sticky elastic effect that expands the top of the page. Oh, my my, I'm a genius, I should patent this!

Back in the day, when I didn't have all these kids running on my lawn, for trivial UI cosmetic details like this, we had a choice between a few dozen, and we picked one. And none of them were an “invention”. Has Apple patented lack of choices already?

915 - now, that's just silly. Multi-touch gestures are about putting two existing things together in an obvious way without the tiniest bit of ingenuity. You've had gestures with one finger, and now you added a second finger. They're literally asking Samsung to give them the middle finger back. Wow.

Having a particular gesture is also something you shouldn't get exclusive rights on – the choice of gesture is dictated not by being ingenious, quite the opposite, you want to have a gesture that the user is familiar with. You know, just like real life gestures. You want to have the same gestures on every phone.
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