Tactile feedback patent filing hints at Macs with touchscreens

Future iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches — and perhaps Macs — may sport more tactile feedback. Apple has filed for a patent (number 20190138102) for a “device, method, and graphical user interface for providing tactile feedback for operations performed in a user interface.”

The invention involves adjusting the position and/or size of one or more user interface objects or activating buttons or opening files/applications represented by user interface objects, as well as associating metadata with one or more user interface objects or otherwise manipulating user interfaces. User interface objects could include digital images, video, text, icons, control elements such as buttons and other graphics. 

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In the patent filing, Apple says that a user will, in some circumstances, need to perform such manipulations on user interface objects in a file management program (the macOS Finder), an image management application (iPhoto), a digital content management application (iTunes) a drawing application, a presentation application (Keynote), a word processing application (Pages), or a spreadsheet application (Numbers). Interestingly, the patent mentions no-longer-in-development Apple apps such as the iDVD disk authoring tool and the iWeb web creation tool.

For example, a macOS, iOS, or watchOS with a touch-sensitive surface could display a representation of a clock on the display, detect an input directed to the representation of the clock, while detecting the input directed to the representation of the clock, and provide tactile feedback that corresponds to the clock.

While providing the tactile feedback, the device detects that the input is no longer directed to the representation of the clock, and in response to detecting that the input is no longer directed to the representation of the clock, ceases to provide the tactile feedback corresponding to the clock.

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.