Apple Publishes Historic ‘Tap To Focus’ Camera Patent

Tap to focus

In a world in which the iPhone camera is good enough to be most people’s primary camera, the days of low-grade cellphones pics are a thing of the past (for Apple users at least.)

But it’s not simply a matter of megapixels, but about the other “value added” touches that truly make the iPhone a camera worth hanging up your SLR for.

One of those touches is Apple’s neat “tap to focus” functionality, which arrived with the iPhone 3GS in June 2009.

Referred to as “Image capturing device with touch screen for adjusting camera settings,” the patent for this functionality was published Tuesday — describing several methods for operating the in-built camera of a portable, handheld device such as the iPhone or iPad by tapping its touch sensitive screen to change exposure and focus parameters.

In the event that a scene changes, the camera then reverts to its default automatic focus mode.

The diagram below gives a high-level overview of how the technology works.

Screen_Shot_2014-03-11_at_10(4)

Apple’s “Image capturing device with touch screen for adjusting camera settings” patent was filed on July 17, 2012.

It names Jeremy Jones, Nikhil Boghal, and Ralph Brunner as its inventors.

  • JasonR

    I already have a few camera apps that can do this, so how is this historic? The Olympus OMD and other cameras can already do this as well.

    • Luke Dormehl

      It’s an old patent, so historic in the sense that it proved groundbreaking as a smartphone technology when it first appeared back in 2009.

      • wojnicki

        In 2008 I owned a sony handycam which already had this…

  • http://www.CameraPhoneCash.com/ CameraPhone Cash.com

    I get great pictures on my iPhone and I use the ‘tap to focus’ feature all the time! :)

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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