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A just-granted Apple patent looks like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 radial menu

The unique circular menu found on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 could find its way to Apple’s Mac OS X and iOS in the future. Apple was granted a second patent on the radial menu interface on Tuesday; Patently Apple found and reported on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office grant. It also noted the first such patent for a radial menu  granted to Apple back in 2012, a full year prior to Samsung’s implementation on the Note 3.

Samsung calls the circular menu “Air Command” on the Galaxy Note 3. When you tap a button on the included stylus while hovering close to the phone’s display, the Air Command menu displays, showing various contextual options for using the pen such as taking a memo or capturing a screenshot that can be annotated with digital ink.

Galaxy Note 3 Action Memo

Apple’s patents on this menu style show a design that looks very similar to Samsung’s implementation, with one caveat: Samsung’s Air Command isn’t a complete circle of menu options, while Apple’s radial menu is a full 360 degrees.

apple radial menu

While [company]Samsung[/company] relies on its S-Pen to activate Air Command, Apple’s patent describes a different method for users to see and interact with a radial menu. It can appear at a specific location indicator, such as a mouse, or from some type of touch input. That would suggest a round menu interface could be used on Mac computers or Apple’s iPhone and iPad in a future version of iOS.

Given the historical litigation between Samsung and [company]Apple[/company], I’m curious to see if this particular patent will appear front and center in a courtroom down the line. Samsung is widely expected to debut the Galaxy Note 4 later this week, so it will be interesting if the device continues to use a radial menu, either as a partial or full circle. Sales of the Galaxy Note line have strengthened with each new model, so it would be in Apple’s best interest to blunt Samsung’s momentum, as it has attempted do with prior infringement suits.

9 Responses to “A just-granted Apple patent looks like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 radial menu”

  1. I’d point out lots of things have PIE-esque controls. CM nightlies, PA, LMT Launcher, PIE Controls in the Play Store, as pointed out below even Apple’s own Assistive Control is sorta PIE-ish….also some Rainmeter widgets have a PIE-like interface.

    It’s fairly generic and not specific to Sammy.

  2. We’re talking about circles, right? BTW this looks/operates nothing like a “click wheel” (which Braun designed decades before Apple). Apple fanboy-ism is reaching pathetic lows.

  3. Dennis Forbes

    Operating without a license….man.

    Radial menus have been around since the *1960s*. If we ignore the huge legacy of patent-destroying precedent before the 2000s, in 2001, Opera (the browser) had a rather brilliant onscreen radial menu system to compliment their mouse gestures.

    Aside from a very narrow niche, this has 0 chance of standing even moderate scrutiny.

  4. Dog Breath

    Apple filed for this patent on April 28, 2008, and it would have been automatically published 18 months later by the US PTO (October 28, 2009) unless Apple requested an even earlier publication date. Samsung and Microsoft have had the opportunity to know about this patent application for almost 5 years now.
    Nothing “unique” about Samsung here, except it most certainly is operating without a license. Microsoft and Apple have routinely had technology sharing agreements though.

  5. George Wedding

    Duh, this “Samsung design” for its “Air Command” interface looks like the original iPod click wheel design rather than some unlikely, original Samsung idea. In fact, it makes me think Samsung adapted the design from the click wheel. What are the chances? Nah, couldn’t be.

  6. robisinho

    this probably won’t stand the test of time. Microsoft already has a radial menu in One Note that predates both Apple’s prior art claim and Samsung’s released Note 3. While Samsung also likely has a prior art claim that predates Apple’s, since they went to market a mere year after (usually development is a 1-2 year-plus process)