Apple granted 19 new patents covering switches, Airplane Mode and more

By , Feb 15, 2012

Apple is known for throwing as many patents onto the wall as possible with the aim of getting at least a few to stick. That has never been more true than since the arrival of the iOS platform with iPads and iPhones seeing more than their fair share of patent applications.

Now the US Patent and Trademark Office has laid out nineteen new patents which have been granted to Apple, and while some are Mac related, others have a distinctly iOS bent to them.

One such patent covers something that we all take for granted – the Airplane Mode feature that is built into all iOS devices, and is a God-send if you happen to use an old FM-transmitter with an iPhone…

The Airplane mode patent covers the switching on and off of the toggle that controls Airplane Mode, along with the associated animations which see the airplane logo replace the carrier and signal strength images on-screen. It may not seem like much, but check this wall of text out courtesy of Patently Apple!

“Apple’s First Patent Claim: A computer-implemented method, comprising: at a portable multifunction device with a touch screen display, displaying an airplane mode switch icon on the touch screen display, the airplane mode switch icon having an “on” position and an “off” position; displaying a communications signal strength icon on the touch screen display if the airplane mode switch icon is at the “off” position; and replacing the communications signal strength icon with an airplane icon upon detecting a movement of a finger contact with the touch screen display on or near the airplane mode switch icon, wherein the detected movement of the finger contact is from the “off” position to the “on” position, and wherein replacing the communications signal strength icon with the airplane icon includes: displaying an animated movement of the airplane icon on the touch screen display towards the communications signal strength icon; displaying an animated movement of the airplane icon over the communications signal strength icon; and ceasing to display the communications signal strength icon.”

Another patent covers the bend switch used in the Apple earphones which are shipped with iPhones and iPod touches. The switch, which also acts as a volume control and speaker, is detailed in patent number 8,116,503 and is complicated enough to make our heads hurt. If you’re of an engineering persuasion though, we’re sure it’s fascinating!

We’re not going to go into all nineteen patents here, Patently Apple has all the gory details as only Patently Apple can, and there are some interesting tidbits in there for the intrepid patent explorer.

There is no doubt that plenty of Apple’s patent applications never see a real-world implementation, but it’s always great to see a patent for something that we all use today without ever giving a second thought.

Like that Airplane Mode switch!

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  • Javier Gore

    Apple WAS granted. Otherwise it reads as Apple granted something to someone.

  • http://twitter.com/purpledodi Jens Tinnerholm

    The switches blows. why anyone would want to patent those is beyond me. toggle button ftw

  • cruzcontrol1001

    Interesting article

    * typo volume switch and microphone