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INNOVATION: Microsoft receives Patent for a new User Interface for Mobile Devices
Posted by Arne Hess - on Friday, 12.10.07 - 17:01:36 CET under 01 - General News - Viewed 34645x
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Just in time to my previous column if the Windows Mobile touchscreen interface is ready for single-hand use, the United States Patent and Trademark Office yesterday unveiled a patent which was given to Microsoft (Application Number: 11/765,684). Title of the patent: "Extensible Filtered Lists for Mobile Device User Interface" which is about systems and methods for providing an improved user interface for mobile devices (smartphones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and the like are explicitly stated in the patent specification). Access to data and services from multiple software applications can be provided through a group or list of items. Each group or list can include multiple items, which can be associated with data or tasks from multiple applications.

The set of groups of items can be both customizable and extensible to allow users to locate and utilize data and tasks relevant to the particular user. The set of item groups can provide users with a filtered view of content available through the mobile device, enhancing access to subset of data and tasks available on the mobile device:

Briefly described, the provided subject matter concerns an improved user interface for mobile devices such as smartphones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and the like. Selected data and services provided by multiple software applications can be accessed through a group or list of items. Each group or list can include multiple items that provide access to data or tasks from multiple applications. For example, a list centered around a user's current day can include items corresponding to meetings scheduled for that day using a calendar application, E-Mail received on that day through an E-Mail application, and a weather forecast for the day provided by a weather service application.

A customizable set of lists of items can be defined to allow users to quickly access relevant content such as commonly used data or tasks. Users can add, delete, reorder and/or edit lists or items to personalize and increase usability of the mobile device. For example, in addition to the list based upon a user's day described above, a user can define a list to manage music or audio files and a separate, second list to manage pictures or images. Items in lists can be updated based upon specific user selections. In addition, the items can be dynamically updated based upon changes in the underlying data or services provided by software applications.

The set of lists can provide users with a filtered view of content and tasks available using the mobile device. While the full extent of underlying software applications remains available through the applications, the set of lists can enhance usability by providing a user with the ability to quickly access the most relevant or commonly used data or tasks. For example, a user may have data for hundreds of contacts or persons stored in the mobile device. However, the user typically communicates with only ten of those contacts on a daily basis. Those ten contacts can be maintained in a list of items. Information for the ten contacts can be accessed directly from the list rather than through the contact application. The full set of contacts can remain accessible through the contact application.

In addition, a shortcut display can be provided to facilitate navigation of a horizontal list, such as the set of lists. A shortcut display can reorganize elements of the horizontal list as a vertical list, which typically allows additional items to be displayed. Selection of an item or element of the shortcut list triggers a return to the parent, horizontal list. On return, the parent list is updated such that the item selected within the shortcut list has focus in the parent list. The shortcut list allows users to navigate rapidly through the parent list.

To the accomplishment of the foregoing and related ends, certain illustrative aspects of the claimed subject matter are described herein in connection with the following description and the annexed drawings. These aspects are indicative of various ways in which the subject matter may be practiced, all of which are intended to be within the scope of the claimed subject matter. Other advantages and novel features may become apparent from the following detailed description when considered in conjunction with the drawings.

Not sure if we will see above sooner or later in Windows Mobile smartphones but it looks like Microsoft is (finally) working on a user interface refresh for mobile devices. Received the Zune (and even before the Portable Media Center) a UI refresh already, it's time to refresh the Windows Mobile UI as well, to make it usable without a stylus.

Cheers ~ Arne

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