Apple patents scrolling, panning and swiping – will get laughed out of court

There has been a rumour going around that Apple has secured an important patent on multi-touch, and that this will prevent other devices from utilizing this feature.

The abstract of the patent however implies something completely different, and much less defensible.

Touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics

Abstract
A computer-implemented method for use in conjunction with a computing device with a touch screen display comprises: detecting one or more finger contacts with the touch screen display, applying one or more heuristics to the one or more finger contacts to determine a command for the device, and processing the command. The one or more heuristics comprise: a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a one-dimensional vertical screen scrolling command (scrolling), a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a two-dimensional screen translation command (panning), and a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a command to transition from displaying a respective item in a set of items to displaying a next item in the set of items (swiping).

Now it should be clear that, while many are calling this the multi-touch patent, what it actually covers is any simple gesture using even only one finger. Of course the patent does cover the so-called pinch gestures, but are much broader than what people appear to assume. It should also be pretty obvious most of these gestures are self-evident and already employed well before this 2006 patent was even filed.

So much for that then.

Read Apple’s patent here.

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