The Mac and Tablet PC communities have been buzzing since Hrmpf posted word on the latest patent applications that Apple has made for a Tablet-like device. While most are jumping on the “hurry up Apple and release a Tablet” bandwagon there they are overlooking the actual information in the patent application. Apple’s applications detail an intricate UI based on a touch screen that recognizes multi-point touches to the screen to cause events to happen. At the base level they have detailed a number of scenarios where touching the UI screen with two fingers will cause intuitive things to happen. Imagine looking at a map on the screen and using two fingers to “squeeze” a portion of the map to compress the zoom level or to move apart and blow it up. When you start thinking about this capability all sorts of uses come to mind that could make using a touch screen Tablet very easy.
The patent application also demonstrates a floating virtual scroll wheel reminiscent of the iPod wheel that can be operated by fingertip. This would be a great way to scroll in documents and web pages without having to reach for the pen and tap that little scroll bar on the right side of the window. Can you see how useful this might be in the real world? Further examination of the patent application reveals that Apple also describes an automatic zoom that occurs when the fingertip is passed over certain objects, like window close boxes. Now that would be dynamite.