Apple patent shows Aperture-like iPad photo interface


Apple may be preparing a new look for iPad-based photo manipulation apps, according to a 2011 patent application just now uncovered. When first filed in the U.S., the application describing a new slider-based user interface did not include Apple as the owner, allowing the invention to fly under the radar until now.

In a detailed explanation, the filing describes a user interface with multiple sliders, pop-up menus and image previews allowing tablet owners to see how changes affect their final product. The interface appears unlike that now offered in the iOS 7 Photos app or the iPhoto iOS app (a $4.99 download)…

At the base of the invention is a two-tier slider control within a graphical user interface. One sliding area includes other sliders from which various color and other aspect values can be selected. At the same time, by moving multiple sliders, a user receives visual feedback on how the alterations change the subject image.

“Apple’s patent filing is deep in examples of how this new edition GUI will be able to be used in a future version of Aperture or iPhoto,”¬†Patently Apple speculates.

Whatever the target market, the patent clearly has the iPad or another tablet in mind (a 12.9-inch ‘iPad Pro’¬†perhaps?). We could also conjure up that an iOS version of Aperture may be in the works, possibly sporting such user interface and aimed at photography pros on the go.


“Specifically, these embodiments can be implemented on a tablet device (e.g. an Apple iPad) with a touchscreen input device. With a touchscreen input device, a user can simultaneously perform multiple selection operations,” Apple writes.

In one example, several sliders are available to adjust multiple variables relating to color. With one slider, the user can apply changes to sharpness, while others alter saturation, contrast, brightness, color cast and skin tone.

The user interface is designed with various sliders on the left of the screen, a sort of mixing palette in the middle and a live image preview to the right.


Per the filing, each slider elicits a pop-up menu with even more choices in a sub-menu.

For instance, a user can pick a color, then be presented with options to delete the selection, view the properties of the selection or adjust a range of colors. That “range” option branches off to a sub-menu presenting the user with a choice of shadow, midtones, or highlight ranges.

Although the filing’s detailed description explicitly mentions photo editing, the new user interface could also be used in other types of apps.

Although filed in 2011 in the U.S., the names of the inventors were used as the assignee. This technique avoids a patent being found within the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database through searching for ‘Apple’

A Korea patent with Apple listed as the assignee was revealed only earlier this month in Europe. Apple has used this backdoor method in the past when it wants to obscure its connection to key products.

Unknown is why Apple is taking the wraps off the patent filing now, giving rise to speculation Apple may be prepared to revamp the UI of its key photo products.