Apple granted patent for mapping app with an interactive compass

Apple has been granted a patent (number 20170315691) for a “mapping application with an interactive compass.” It involves the Maps app for macOS, iOS, and watchOS devices.

In the patent filing, Apple notes that, with the proliferation of computing devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops, users are enjoying numerous applications of numerous kinds that can be run on their devices. One popular type is the mapping app, which allows user to browse maps. 

Despite their popularity, these mapping apps have shortcomings with their user interfaces and features that can cause inconvenience to the users, according to Apple. For example, users may be limited in the variety of tools they may use to navigate a map. Furthermore, the existing tools may be limited in the variety of operations that they may be used to perform. 


Apple’s idea: a mapping app that includes several “novel” on-screen controls. In some embodiments, these novel controls include one or more of a dynamic scale that can be used to perform different zoom operations and an interactive compass control for adjusting a 2D/3D presentation of a map being displayed by the mapping application. 

The mapping appl may be executed both on a device that has a touch-sensitive screen (e.g., smartphone, tablet) or a device that receives user input through various other mechanisms (e.g., a desktop, laptop, etc.). For example, the mapping application can be controlled using a variety of input devices, including any combination of a trackpad, keypad, and mouse. 

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.