Apple has filed for a patent (number 20180150212) for “formatting content for a reduced-size user interface.” It’s designed to ensure consistency across all its iOS and watchOS device screens — and, perhaps, an “Apple OS” if the company ever does merge macOS and iOS.
According to the patent filing, an electronic device — think iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch — with one or more processors, memory, and a display, receives content associated with a designated area of the display, where the content is associated with a plurality of available display formats stored in the memory. The device determines a size of the designated area and determines a first display format for the content from the plurality of available display formats based on at least the content and the size of the designated area. It then displays a representation of the content according to the first display format.
In the patent filing, Apple notes that the display on many modern electronic devices — such as smartphones, tablet computers, watches, and the like — is often small, which makes it difficult to display significant amounts of content in a discernable, comprehensible, and aesthetically pleasing manner. Some techniques for displaying content on a reduced-size user interface using electronic devices, however, are generally inefficient.
For example, Apple notes that some existing techniques don’t accommodate different interface sizes. Existing techniques may fail to display key information (e.g., if the size of the content exceeds the size of the display area) or display content in a manner that is difficult to view, making it challenging for a user to interact with the device.
In addition, Apple says that modern devices may accommodate simultaneous display of content from multiple different sources (e.g., different applications), each with a different style, format, color, etc. The lack of a consistent general appearance can result in an interface that is distracting and makes it difficult for a user to process the displayed information. Apple wants to continue to change this.
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.
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