With its iBooks Author software, Apple has made it incredibly easy for almost anyone to write and publish their own e-book. And it hopes to make it just as easy to create iOS apps. One patent application shows the Cupertino company has been working on a tool that would allow users without any programming knowledge at all to build their own iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch software.
Entitled “Content Configuration for Device Platforms” and discovered by AppleInsider, Apple’s patent describes a “WYSIWYG” (what you see is what you get) tool that would work in much the same way as Apple’s old iWeb software, allowing you to build iOS apps using a simple graphical user interface — as opposed to learning and writing stacks of code.
Apple notes that programming languages are a “hinderance to content creation,” so it aims to provide non-technical users with an easy way to build apps.
Furthermore, Apple hopes to make it easier for developers to create software that supports a range of devices with different screen sizes. Right now, developers can build iOS apps for the iPhone/iPod touch or the iPad, or a universal app that’s compatible with both. But it also wants to cater to larger displays, such as computer monitors and televisions, without having to build several apps:
Due to such diverse devices having such diverse capabilities, content must now be created not only once, but often several times so that it can be configured for multiple device types. This development has introduced a new barrier to content creation and delivery.
The only way around this at the moment, Apple states, is using a “lowest-comment denominator approach,” which sees content converted so that it can be displayed on any mobile device. The downside to this is that high-resolution devices are not utilized to their full potential.
With a new graphical software creation tool, Apple proposes to make it easier to animate assets without having to write a single line of code.
Each animation can be controlled by an action, and the actions can be tied to a time axis for execution. By relating actions to a time axis, animations based on the actions can be more easily viewed and reviewed.
Not only would the tool help those without any programming knowledge, but Apple says it could also be used by professional developers that just want to make things easier.
Apple includes a number of examples of software that could be created using the tool, including a game of tic tac toe, a menu for a coffee shop, and an app that provides video from the TV show American Idol. Creating these apps would be as simple as selecting a template, then filling in the blanks.
Apple’s patent application was filed in December last year, so unlike many of those that we stumble across, it relatively recent. Of course, some of the company’s patents never actually turn into real products, but we’re certainly hoping this one does.