If there’s anything that gives Apple fans an indication of what is to come from the tech giant, it would be their vast list of patents. Apple has been known to file patents for just about anything, from design features to cool new technologies (we see you, virtual reality). And just this past week, Patently Apple reported that the Cupertino based company was granted 40 new patents that include some exciting possibilities.
First, a long overdue patent finally came to pass. Apple’s Expose (now named “Mission Control”) feature finally earned its patent (patent 9,081,474) on the 14th of July. Apple credited John Louch, Timothy Bumgarner, Eric Peyton and Christopher Hynes as the inventors of this OS X operating system feature. It previewed back in 2003 at the WWDC conference, but was only granted its patent this month. Mission Control is a unique function that allows the user to quickly view all open screens and programs on their Mac computer. You can access Mission Control either by a simple three or four finger upward swipe on the trackpad, or by locating the Mission Control icon in your Dock/Launchpad. It is an ingenious way to view all of your apps and programs in one easy-to-view spot.In the wake of Apple’s 40 new patents, a few of them appeared with exciting possibilities. One of Apple’s patents is for “Customizing Maps Destination Imagery”. This concept entails including a photo of your final destination when using a navigation application. By doing so, Apple hopes to help keep their users on track, especially when travelling to an unfamiliar location. They believe that including a final photo of the location can help to orient a user and more efficiently direct them to their destination. The kicker is that Apple wants to allow users to upload and associate their own media files with particular destinations as well. This will make for a great UI and add a personal touch. Another notable patent obtained by Apple is something described as “Automatic identification of vehicle location”, which would play off of Apple’s April patent for “Vehicle location in weak location scenarios.” The patent covers the ability for a device to mark the location of a vehicle, in addition to noting when the vehicle has been parked. Furthermore, Apple believes that their technology could even be used in spots where GPS or other location technology signals are weak. This would certainly save time (and frustration!) for individuals who can’t remember where they parked their car.
All of these new patents have come to fruition alongside the rise of patent trolls (aka non-practicing enterprises who nitpick large corporations for patent infringements).
In fact, according to Cult of Mac, Apple is the focus of patent trolls, accruing 9 out of 10 patent lawsuits filed against tech companies in the first half of 2015. One of the more recent accusations includes the patent dispute between Apple and a Texas-based company called Smartflash, in which Apple was ordered to pay an astounding $532.9 million award.