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Apple’s Cover Flow coming to iPod Classic

Redmond Seeks to Copy Cat Apple’s Cover Flow UI Feature


Apple’s 2004 developer conference welcomed attendees with signs stating "Redmond, we have a problem" and "Redmond, start your photocopiers." Well, Apple called it right again as it appears that Redmond is about to copy Apple’s Cover Flow concept for data. Microsoft has applied for a patent covering a similar concept involving stacking data wheels. Microsoft’s primary market focus for this concept is the mobile space: cell phones, their Zune MP3 player, PDA’s and so forth. Yet I wouldn’t count out a version for their "Live" interface that’s a part of their Xbox 360. Their wheels UI feature is noted as being a part of the Windows Live mobile UI and will be integrated to work with common mobile applications such mail, calendar, contact lists, instant messaging, note taking, multimedia messaging, web search and other applications including web widgets.


Microsoft's Stack of Wheels


Microsoft’s engineers describe their future UI feature as follows. "The user interface is arranged as a stack of wheels, with each wheel having one or more data tiles. One data tile from each wheel is simultaneously viewable, and each wheel spins independent of the other wheels to allow a user to view each of the data tiles on a particular wheel. The wheel-based user interface has a memory in the sense that if a user navigates away from the wheel-based user interface, and later navigates back to it, the position of each of the wheels remains unchanged. In an exemplary implementation, the wheel-based mobile device user interface maps to a row-column structure of modules of data on a web page, such that each data tile on a particular wheel maps to a data module in a particular column on the web page."




Selective Patent Figures


Microsoft’s patent FIG. 2 is a block diagram that illustrates select components of an exemplary mobile device: a mobile phone.




Microsoft’s patent FIG. 4 illustrates “exemplary navigation among data tiles that may be associated with a wheel of a mobile device user interface 400. Data tiles 402, 404, 406, 408, and 410 are currently displayed. Data tile 404 is currently highlighted; indicating that tile 404 currently has focus. Left and/or right commands can be entered to navigate among data tiles 404, 412, 414, 416, 418, and 420. In an exemplary implementation, wheel position indicator 422 provides a visual indicator of the currently displayed tile's position on the wheel. For example, wheel position indicator 422 indicates that there are six data tiles on the current wheel, and that tile 404 is located in the second position on the wheel. Similarly, tile 412 is located in the third position on the wheel; tile 414 is located in the fourth position on the wheel; and so on. Because each wheel spins independently, navigating among data tiles 404, 412, 414, 416, 418, and 420 does not affect data tiles 402, 406, 408, and 410.




Microsoft’s patent FIG. 8 (shown below) is noted as illustrating "an exemplary implementation of a mobile-device user interface in which data modules arranged in a fall screen web-page are mapped to a wheel-based mobile device user interface. "Data modules", as described herein may also be referred to as "data tiles", "containers", or any other terminology that describes a distinct, bounded, area containing a particular type of data. Examples of web sites that utilize data modules include personal web pages like those available through Windows Live Spaces ( and MySpace (, and portals that can be personalized such as Google."




Microsoft’s patent FIG. 11 (below) is a flow diagram that illustrates an exemplary method for implementing a mobile device user interface.



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