Apple patent hints at tweaks to the macOS user interface

Apple has been granted a patent (number 10,365,782) for a “method and apparatus for displaying a window for a user interface.” It hints that some minor changes could come to the macOS user interface, including windows that vanish after an app or utility hasn’t been used for a while.

In the patent filing, Apple notes that traditional windows typically provide strong user interactions, which may cause distractions. For example, a user waits for one window to disappear to view a second window. Or a user may have to manipulate a mouse or touch pad to view or dismiss a window. Apple wants to improve the efficiency of the macOS interface. 

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Here’s the summary of the invention: “Methods and apparatuses to display windows. In more than one embodiments of the invention, a window is closed automatically (e.g., after a timer expires, or when a condition or criterion is met, or a system input is received) without user input. In some examples, the window is translucent so that the portion of another window, when present, is visible under the window. 

“In some examples, the image of the window is faded out before the window is closed and destroyed. In some examples, the window does not close in response to any input from a user input device. In some examples, the window is repositioned (or hidden) automatically when another translucent window is displayed. 

“The degree of translucency, the speed for fading out, the discrete levels of translucency for fading out, the time to expire, and/or other parameters for controlling the display of the window may be set by the user or adjusted by the system (or application software programs) automatically according to system conditions or other criteria.”

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.