Apple working on user controllable switch
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Apple working on user controllable switch

Future iOS devices may have a user controllable switch, per an Apple patent (number 8185149) that's popped up at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The invention is for devices which, in at least certain embodiments, may include at least one mechanical switch for user to select a user profile interface setting and at least one processor for causing the device to respond to the mechanical switch.

The mechanical switch may be dedicated for the purpose of switching profiles and may allow for a selection of a plurality of profiles. Further, in conjunction with an optional shift key, the user may select preferences programmed within a profile.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Portable devices, such as cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and in general, devices with wireless communication capabilities are becoming increasingly common. These portable devices have grown more complex over time, incorporating many features including, for example, MP3 player capabilities, photographing capabilities, web browsing capabilities, email capabilities, text messaging capabilities and the like.

"The user of these portable devices, such as a cell phone incorporating web browsing, photograph taking, MP3 player, email and text messaging capabilities, range from teenagers to professionals. Often each user has his/her particular preferences in how the cell phone or PDA is set up. The set up may include display brightness, ring tone, ring volume, email notification, text notification, background display image, call forward, call volume, Bluetooth headset setup etc. For example, a teenager may prefer to have multiple set ups for different settings such as in school, at home, or at a party.

"The teenager may prefer to have a unique music clip as ring tone, low volume, high power savings, and provocative background display while in school and amongst friends. However, the same person may prefer a traditional ring tone, low volume, moderate power savings (for playing games or playing music from MP3 player and a less distinct background display while at home. Similarly, the same person may want to have a silent ring tone and volume but using only vibration mode while keeping the same provocative background while in the library.

"Typically, changing profile settings often require the user to make changes through the various menus in the user interface using the keypad when the phone is activated. For users who lead busy lives, such as professionals, who frequently transitions among different environments, like from a personal office into a meeting and into a public space, this method of changing profile settings becomes inconvenient. Users are often multi-tasking. Sometimes they simply do not even have minutes or even seconds to fidget with their phones to change profile settings suitable to the new environment or circumstances.

"Consequent of the dynamic and fast paced lifestyle of users, a more convenient and less burdensome manner of changing user profile setting that can complement and keep up with the fast pace lifestyles is needed. There is a demand for a direct and simple manner in changing user profile on the fly without having to use the keypad and menus in the user interface.

"The various methods and devices described herein relate to devices which, in at least certain embodiments, may include at least one mechanical switch for users to select a user profile interface setting and at least one processor for causing the device to respond to the mechanical switch. The mechanical switch may be dedicated for the purpose of selecting a profile among a plurality of profiles. In other words, actuation of the switch may immediately and directly lead to a change in the user profile without the use of the menus and keypads in the user interface.

"According to one embodiment of the present invention, a method to change a user profile interface setting includes: receiving an actuation of a dedicated mechanical switch with at least two switch positions on a portable data processing device to toggle between at least two programmable, mirrored user interface profile settings, receiving an electrical output corresponding to the actuation of the mechanical switch to each of the at least two switch positions, controlling a selection of parameters in the at least two programmable, mirrored user interface profile settings of the portable data processing device, and determining and selecting a preference in the at least two programmable, mirrored user interface profile settings.

"The portable data processing device may be a telephone, such as a cell phone, or an integrated telephone and media player, or other types of devices such as a PDA that transmits and receives information as a means of communication. This device includes numerous user profiles. In one embodiment, all profiles may include a plurality of mirrored fields. However each field may have the same or different values across different profiles. Each field or setting has multiple different values or options. Each field controls an aspect of the interface for communication and each value or option indicates a different selection within the interface. The device includes a processing logic to process the interrupt request from the actuation of the mechanical switch to change profiles.

"The switch may be any one of a variety of mechanical switches including, but not limited to, a typical linear sliding mechanical switch with two or more positions, a rotary switch where rotation of various different angles result in different switch positions, and a simple toggle switch. The switches are generally digital switches where each toggled position represents a logic state, however, an analog switch utilizing a potentiometer to change voltage may also be possible. For example, a linear sliding switch can have two or more positions wherein each position represents a profile setting.

"Similarly each position in a rotary switch and simple toggle switch can be a unique profile setting. In general, the mechanical switch is dedicated only to the changing of profile settings and each actuation of the mechanical switch may result in a change of the profile. In other words, there is an effect on the profile settings from each operation or actuation of the mechanical switch.

In certain embodiments, the device may include an optional shift key. The actuation or operation of the optional shift key by itself has no effect, but when simultaneously actuated and operated with the dedicated mechanical switch, a different output results compared to the actuation or operation of the mechanical switch by itself. For instance, three profiles are controlled by the operation of the mechanical switch, and each profile may have two sets of preferences. While the mechanical switch controls the toggling among different profiles, simultaneous operation of the optional optional shift key can allow toggling between the two preferences within each profile.

Various devices which perform one or more of the foregoing methods and machine readable media which, when executed by a processing system, cause the processing system to perform these methods, are also described. Other methods, devices and machine readable media are also described."

The inventors are Scott Forstall, Gregory Christie, Steve Jobs, Imran Chaudhri, Patrick L. Coffman and Nitin Ganatra.


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