Apple granted patent for automatic animation generation

Apple wants to make it easier for programmers to include animations in their apps. The company has been granted a patent (number 20170186211) for “automatic animation generation.”

The invention provides a method that receives a selection of an animation to apply to two or more graphical objects in a scene over a particular time duration. The method identifies parameters for each of the graphical objects. Based on the selected animation, the method generates modifications to at least one parameter for each of the graphical objects over the particular time duration. 

The parameter of a first graphical object is modified differently than the parameter of a second graphical object. The method stores the modifications as data for the scene.

In the patent filing, Apple notes that smartphone appshave increased dramatically in popularity, with many programmers, both amateur and professional, in the business of developing such apps. These apps will often contain graphical objects that move around on the screen, and all of this movement has to be programmed by the app developer. 

To get an object to move off the screen, the developer needs to specifically program that when a particular condition occurs, the object moves in a particular direction from its particular location. Similarly, objects need to be sealed, distorted, rotated, changed in appearance, etc. Given the amount of such animation found in many such apps (games, for example), Apple says a simpler way of programming such animation is needed. 

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.