Apple patent hints at OS X, iOS melding
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Apple patent hints at OS X, iOS melding

Jefferies & Company analyst Peter Misek recently said that OS X and iOS would begin merging next year. It's obvious this is going to happen, but I didn't expect it that soon. However, an Apple patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office hints that Apple is working on such a move sooner rather than later.

Patent number 20110197153 is for user interactions with items displayed on an user interface instead of a device. Techniques for managing user interactions with items on a user interface are disclosed. In one aspect, a representation of an opening is presented in response to touch input. A display object is moved over the opening, and the display object is processed in response to the moving.

In another aspect, touch input pinching two opposite corners of a display object followed by touch input flicking the display object is received and the display object is deleted in response to the inputs. In another aspect, touch input centered over a display object is received and the display object is deleted in response to the input. In another aspect, touch input corresponding to swiping gestures are received and a display object is securely deleted in response to the gestures. The inventors are Nicholas V. King, Todd Benjamin and Brett Bilbrey.

Reading the patent and looking at some of the graphics (shown) at first sounds like it's talking about an iOS device. But look closely at the graphic and you'll see the screen is like a cross between iOS and OS X with a single app running, but with Finder icons across the top and a Dock along the bottom.

Misek says that combining the two would lead to “synergies,” including better gross margins and an ease in licensing of content. In particular, Apple customers would be able to then experience TV shows and movies and such, stored in the company’s “iCloud,” across phone, tablet, or, eventually, Apple television, and get the same licensed content.

“Users want to be able to pick up any iPhone, iPad, or Mac (or turn on their iTV) and have content move seamlessly between them and be optimized for the user and the device currently being used,” Pisek tells clients. “We believe this will be difficult to implement if iOS and OS X are kept separate ... We believe Apple is looking to merge iOS (iPhones/iPads) with OS X (Macs) into a single platform for apps and cloud services starting in 2012-13.”

Technically, it might not be too difficult. iOS is an offspring of OS X. And OS X Lion implements several iOS features, specifically those of the iPad. Merging the two even more is a logical progression. And 2012 might just be the year that begins in earnest.

-- Dennis Sellers

 
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