Microsoft has been granted an extension of their 2006 patent on live tiles which would expand the functionality of the iconic squares significantly.
We have already seem rumours and even demoes of new tile functionality, and in the patent Microsoft explains many of the use cases.
Interesting new items include “independent tiles” which would be tiles which do not link to any app at all, but which are merely designed to show information, such as alarms.
Microsoft also described tiles which pop up to show more information, (illustrated above) but did not expand on how the tiles would be activated. Microsoft’s rumoured “exploding live tiles” would have a 3D sensor system detect when you hover over a tile, with an alternative activation system would have users tap on a certain corner of a tile.
Another feature which we have seen Microsoft Research demonstrate is interactive live tiles like calculators, where tiles would offer functionality and controls without leaving the start screen.
Microsoft also described some functionality which I suspect were just included for the sake of completeness, including panes of scrolling live tiles which looped all the way around, meaning you could go from the top to bottom and back to the top while only scrolling in one direction, and tile profiles, where there would be a set of work related tiles which were replaced with a set of leisure tiles over weekends, or where work tiles would automatically cluster together.
The full patent, which was filed in 2010 and granted on June 2nd 2015, can be read here.
Thanks D H Dog for the tip.