Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) has received a patent — “Extensible Filtered Lists for Mobile Device User Interface” — which seem intent on making phones easier to use by linking commonly used aspects of different applications under a common heading. It also lets users customize their own lists, and for the lists to be dynamically updated based on changes in the underlying data or services provided by the software applications. I’ll leave aside the question of whether this is new enough to deserve a patent, also the question of obviousness, and just point out that it looks like everyone is keen to improve the usability of the handset interface.
“Briefly described, the provided subject matter concerns an improved user interface for mobile devices such as smartphones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and the like. Selected data and services provided by multiple software applications can be accessed through a group or list of items. Each group or list can include multiple items that provide access to data or tasks from multiple applications. For example, a list centered around a user’s current day can include items corresponding to meetings scheduled for that day using a calendar application, E-Mail received on that day through an E-Mail application, and a weather forecast for the day provided by a weather service application” reports The Unwired (via Engadget).