Apple’s been granted several patents related to the company’s work in multitouch touchscreen technologies, which debuted on the original aluminum iPhone and changed the PDA and smartphone market from a stylus-based enterprise device to a finger-friendly, fun consumer phone. The patent that we’re examining today relates to pinch to zoom, and although the patent that Apple was granted is limited in nature, it does mark a major milestone for a popular action that’s now been seen on numerous other operating systems, such as Windows Phone 7, Android, and webOS.
The patent awarded does not give Apple blanket rights to pinch to zoom, but seems to be more about a specific process relating to pinch to zoom, specifically performing two sequential actions with the gesture.
According to Engadget, the patent relates to a multitouch display that is able to detect at least two contacts. Based on the language of the patent, a multitouch gesture (pinch to zoom or some other action) must be first performed. Then, a subsequent secondary action is detected and performed “within a pre-determined period of time” to adjust the image in the same way. The language is vague, and we’ll have to see how Apple interprets its new award and how other smartphone makers will respond.