Apple Patent to Replace the “Back” Button with “Page Snapback”

This past week was another very prolific one for Apple, as the California-based electronic device developer received 35 patents and had another 36 applications published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many patent applications were concerned with the ways computer users interact with their systems, and we see a number of upgrades to graphical user interfaces coming for device address books and online stores. Of the patents issued to Apple, one protects a webpage retrieval method that can help browsers save a lot of time while searching for information on the Internet.

User Interface for Accessing Presentations
U.S. Patent No. 8407574

One of the many patents received by Apple last Tuesday involves an upgrade to the user interface for web browsing applications. Users of browsers like Internet Explorer are able to go back to previous webpage presentations that they’ve visited, often using the “Back” button. However, using this technique, users can only go back one webpage at a time. Users can view their history to pull up a webpage visited further back without having to load every webpage in between. However, in the case of search engine results or webpages with confusing URLs, identifying the proper page in this way can be difficult.

Apple has invented what they call a “page snapback method” to visit a specific webpage that a browser had loaded earlier without loading the intermediate pages first. A page can be recorded either automatically or manually and restored as is when the system receives an input from the user. The language of the patent document seems to suggest that this system is optimized for search engine result page retrieval, so that a user can return to the search engine listings without having to go backwards one webpage at a time.

As Claim 1 states, Apple has earned the right to protect:

“A computer implemented method performed by an application, comprising: accessing a first document presentation other than a default initial document presentation; automatically recognizing the first document presentation being a search result generated by a remote search facility in response to a search request originated from the application, the first document presentation having a plurality of links, each corresponding to a document found by the search facility, wherein the first document is automatically recognized as a search result locally by the application based on domain information extracted from an address from which the first document presentation has been retrieved; automatically recording a first location of the first document presentation if the first document presentation is recognized as a search result, wherein the first document is automatically recognized and the first location is automatically recorded without user interaction with content presented by the first document; accessing a sequence of one or more additional document presentations originated from the first document presentation; and in response to a first input, without having to select from a menu of document presentations, directly retrieving the first document presentation from the first location, wherein the first input is received within the same instance of the application.”


Contact Graphical User Interface
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130080954

A typical contact list interface for an electronic device provides a list of different entries, usually sorted alphabetically by name. As the iPhone and similar devices have become more sophisticated, device owners can store a plethora of useful contact information, including e-mail address or a person’s physical address. Users have some choices for sorting their contact lists, but for the most part, the address book interface is largely unresponsive to users.

The user interface devised by Apple and described in this application displays contacts as visual representations within a window. Users can upload an image file to serve as a thumbnail picture for the address book entry. The invention also allows a device to rank the contacts and display the contacts in the address according to those rankings.

As Claim 1 describes, Apple wants to protect:

“A method comprising: generating a graphical user interface (GUI) for display on a device; determining a set of contacts; displaying the GUI on the device, the GUI including thumbnails representing the set of contacts; receiving first user input including dragging and dropping a file icon representing a file onto a thumbnail; responsive to the first user input, selecting a preferred communication mode for transferring the file to the contact; and transferring the file to the contact using the preferred communication mode.”

Portable Media Player as a Remote Control
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130080599

Interconnectivity between Apple devices is a large part of the electronic device manufacturer’s design concept, and similar applications can be found on MacBooks, iPhones, iPads and others. In many cases, Apple computers can sync with home entertainment systems to provide high-quality audio playback throughout a user’s home. However, computers have a far better capability to store digital media files, but a listener must be in physical contact with the computer to affect playback.

Apple has created a system of remotely controlling the media playback application running on a computer from a user’s iPod or iPad. The device user would send a request to the computer wirelessly to communicate with iTunes. The user could then change the song currently playing, adjust the volume and more from a number of rooms away.

As Claim 26 (Claims 1 through 25 cancelled) explains, Apple is seeking protection for:

“A method of communicating with a media server utilizing a digital media player, comprising: displaying a list of digital media files on a display device of a digital media player, the digital media files stored on the digital media player; receiving a selection signal to play a digital media file; playing the selected digital media file on the digital media player when the digital media player is operated in a first mode; and wirelessly sending the selected digital media file to a media server via a wireless network interface of the digital media player when the digital media player is operated in a second mode.”

Multi-Layered Ceramic Enclosure
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130078398

When constructing an electronic device, a number of functional aspects need to be considered. Device owners want a very durable cover that is largely scratch and water-resistant. As always, Apple is also interested in creating an enclosure design that is aesthetically appealing to consumers. The design material should also be transparent to radio waves to keep from inhibiting wireless communications.

The device enclosure that Apple has devised utilizes a ceramic laminate with multiple layers. The different layers are all constructed from ceramic, but separate layers use ceramics with different physical properties. For example, the inner ceramic layer has a higher coefficient of thermal expansion than the outer layers, which increases the device’s durability during use.

Claim 1 of this Apple patent application describes:

“A multi-layer ceramic housing arranged for enclosing operational components of a portable electronic device, comprising: a ceramic laminate structure comprising: an inner layer, a first and second outer layer each in contact with a least a portion of the inner layer, the inner layer being arranged between the first and second outer layer in a stacked arrangement, wherein the first and second outer layers have a CTE that is less than the inner layer, and wherein the first and second layers have a compressive residual stress profile and wherein the inner layer has a tensile residual stress profile.”

Generating a Visual Depiction of a Cover for a Digital Item
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130076771

Digital media is being consumed in much larger quantities today more than ever. In many ways, computer and web developers have been trying to improve the experience of purchasing digital content online so that it more closely mirrors a traditional shopping experience. The ability to adjust and display various physical details on the digital “packaging,” such as the book’s appearance or cover synopsis, would improve a consumer’s experience.

The new system devised by Apple aids the processing of data during online store browsing and transactions by creating attribute metadata for each item, such as author name or publisher. An online store could choose which of these fields to display to browsers through their online listings. Also, the physical appearance of item images can be altered so that the digital thumbnail for a book published decades ago could look faded and weathered to suggest age.

Claim 1 of this patent application seeks protection for:

“A method comprising: obtaining one or more values from attribute metadata pertaining to a digital item; generating a base-depiction-selector-value based on at least a portion of the one or more values; accessing a mapping table to select a base visual depiction item using the base-depiction-selector-value; generating a visual depiction to visually represent the digital item based, at least in part, on the selected base visual depiction item; and causing display of the visual depiction on a display device; wherein the method is performed by one or more computing devices.”


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