Apple patents Samsung’s Galaxy Note-style radial menus for iOS

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Samsung’s Galaxy Note has used radial menus before. But don’t worry: Apple got there first. (Picture: TechnoBuffalo)

Apple has been awarded a new patent for adding moving radial menus to both Macs and iOS devices.

The use of radial menus would give Apple an alternative to the pull-down menus currently used in most applications — allowing context-specific menus and submenus to be created at optimal positions close to a user’s mouse cursor or, in the case of an iPhone or iPad, their finger.

This feature is reminiscent of the Air Command feature introduced in Samsung devices with the arrival of the Note smartphone. Before anyone jumps down Apple’s throat for copying, however, it appears that Apple had the idea on file first with a June 2008 filing.

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 11.44.44

Initially Apple submitted the patents in Europe and Korea as a way of keeping its work on the project secret. However, a U.S. patent was subsequently published back in 2012, covering only Macs. It is only with this subsequent patent application that the technology has been added to iOS devices also.

Will it appear as an addition in a new version of iOS? The amount of time Apple has sat on this patent without using it might suggest not, but as more and more productivity tools make their way to iPads it would certainly be an intriguing direction for the company to explore.

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 11.43.11

  • Jeshter

    Who ia copying who?

    • Adrayven

      Samsung watches Apple patents closely, if they think they can use it quick enough, they will do this, then ride out the litigation which comes only when and after the patent is approved. Like this one..

      So, Samsung is copying.. but public perception will be other way because they implemented Apples idea first.

      EDIT: Also, not noted in article, Samsung didn’t release the new Air menu in the Note until Sept 2013.. so even Apple’s addition of the menu patent to iOS (2012) was prior to anything Samsung had. /shrug.. Apple has just been sloooooow to move on it.. Sometimes Apple never uses patents like this if they don’t see it fitting their current product line-up..

      • Jeshter

        Keep living in you fantasy world…

      • Adrayven

        You do, why? You on Kool-aid? lol

      • JRX

        “it appears that Apple had the idea on file first with a June 2008 filing.”

        Reading is good for you.

      • Brian

        I think people forget that this has been in iOS for a long time. Turn on assistive touch. You will see that functionality in use and again it has been in use for a long time in iOS.

    • Kinghell

      “Before anyone jumps down Apple’s throat for copying, however, it appears that Apple had the idea on file first with a June 2008 filing”

    • horcrux7

      Do you have trouble with your reading comprehension? The patent was originally filed in 2008, Samsucks has a serious case of copy and paste. Apple is an American company with thousands of American employees, Samsung is an Asian company based in Asia you are supporting a communist government hurting the American economy and enriching the pockets of Asian war lords.

  • MisterK

    Autodesk’s Maya 3D has had Marking Menus for a really long time. I’m not sure how many years, but I feel like it predates all of these.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9-jSmISnuc

    • Harlon Katz

      But Apple did something completely new and innovative, they enclosed the list in a circle, vs just a bunch of points…..

      Really, it seems our USPTO just approves most anything, not evaluating for true novelty or prior art, preferring to let the courts sort it out. Apple is not the only one that takes advantage of this.

  • AAPL_@_$101_Is_A_Done_Deal_:)

    Where would Samsung be without Apple in the smartphone business? Pre-2007. Apple says to Samsung, “All your radial menus belong to us.” Now, if Apple can just make Samsung remove those radial menus from the Galaxy Note then everything will be fine and dandy.

  • http://www.behance.net/BJMRamage BJMRamage

    not totally sure, but doesn’t the new iOS8 iMessage app use this round/radial menu? or something similar?

    • Freddy Feliciano

      actually yes in a way…when you hold down the button it brings up a radial kind-of menu

  • Scott F. Walter

    Hmmm my Wacom Tablet has had a similar menu for years

  • Scott F. Walter

    On another note I would love s-pen functionality on a new iPad.

  • Baeckman

    “Apple had the idea on file first with a June 2008 filing”. 2 minutes googling revealed the “Circular Menu Component” released january 2005… http://www.codeproject.com/Articles/9369/Circular-Menu-Component

    • PMB01

      Article is still correct. Your link says nothing about a license or patent on file.

      • Baeckman

        I just try to point out that the “radial menu” is already invented long before apple filed for a patent. My link is only one of many implementation of a circular menu predating 2008.

        So my question is, what is so different and special with apples implementation that makes it worth a patent?

  • Scott Brown

    I remember using menus like this back in the 90’s on SGI machines doing Alias work. Loved them back then. Definitely nothing new.

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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