Do you like the pull-to-refresh feature found in many popular iOS apps? Well, you might want to prepare to see it go the way of the dodo, as Twitter is now trying to patent it.
The patent application in question is United States Patent Application 20100199180 called “User Interface Mechanics” invented by Loren Brichter, who developed Tweetie (which was then bought by Twitter and became the official Twitter app for iOS).
The wording of the patent describes:
A method, comprising: displaying a content area; receiving input associated with a first command, the first command including a request to scroll the content area; and based on the first command, performing a second command, the second command being independent of the first command.
Brichter actually did invent the push-to-refresh feature as it applied to iOS, so this isn’t actually out of left field. That said, it’s used by a lot of cool popular apps, including the official Facebook iOS app and Tweetbot. It could even be applied to apps that use pulling down on any menu to accomplish a function, such as Clear.
Right now, it’s just an application for a patent, and could, of course, not be granted, especially since Twitter didn’t get around to applying for a patent until 2010. That makes it potentially invalid because prior art exists with the feature. Still, those geniuses at the US Patent Office often seem to reward approval stamps through a coin toss, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.