Apple Patent Reveals Radial GUI Pop-Up Menus in iOS

A recent Apple patent filing shows that the company is looking to make iOS more graphics-oriented with a radial pop-up menu. Currently, in menu operations, pop-up menus are text-based and the radial dial that was shown with the iOS patent would show large icons that represent any possible actions or commands available to the user. Also, when pop-up menus have long lists that require scrolling, radial menus could make it faster and more intuitive to see all the possible commands that are available rather than hunt through a long list for the proper command that you seek.

The novel radial menu techniques of some embodiments include (i) non-uniform spacing of menu items, (ii) the use of shading or highlighting within a region associated with an item to indicate the present selectability of the item, and (iii) the use of radial gestures for opening sub-menus and the subsequent display of the sub-menu.

Users can scroll through, like on a rotary phone, and swipe out to the command that they want to initiate. Whether the pop-up menus will show up as part of the next-generation iOS 5 or iPhone 5 is not known. With RIM’s recent TAT acuisition, it looks like the attention to smartphone UIs will continue to heat up.

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