If a new patent spotted by the USPTO archeologists over at Patently Apple is believed, Lion might boasts a new way to navigate menus that would make Mac OS X more suitable to touch input than ever before.
The patents describe a scrollable menu that would provide context-sensitive commands right where a user touches, minimizing the amount of screen real estate devoted to menu bars, toolboxes and palettes.
The implementation seems similar to the Ribbon as seen in Microsoft’s latest Office software suite: basically, you’d see a command displayed on the screen which would be tappable. If you scroll your trackpad or touchscreen, you’d be able to cycle through those commands.
In a nutshell, the idea is very similar to Stacks, but for menu commands instead of apps or files. Like Stacks, commands would fan out once the “Menu” section was touched.
The idea ultimately seems to be to converge the different ways we interface with applications in both iOS and OS X. My only concern here is that for power users, menus are simply more efficient than having to scroll through a stack of commands. Apple patents often don’t see the light of day, but if this one does come to OS X, let’s hope it’s at least user configurable.