Apple Files Radical New "Radial Menu" Patent
A recently-revealed Apple patent filing
indicates that the company is looking into a radical modification of the graphical user interface with the introduction of a "radial menu." According to the application, a rotary wheel of options could be more efficient in terms of screen real estate and ease of use than the current drop-down list. Sample drawings accompanying the patent show the technology used in both iOS and Mac OS X.
The new menu could be a modification of current drop down menus, where the most common items appear in a list but change to the radial menu if the user makes a circular motion. This would be especially well-suited for touchscreen devices, allowing the user to navigate longer lists more easily even when holding the device in one hand and scrolling (or, um, "spinning?) with a thumb. The same circular gesture could be used to open sub-menus as well. When the user reaches the menu option or sub-level they want, a linear gesture (swipe) or tap would be used to choose the option.
However, not only touchscreen devices but traditional mouse-and-pointer interfaces could make use of the new menu design. The patent shows an example of a video-editing application on a desktop computer where radial menus are invoked by keyboard commands to do things like select clips to add to a project, as well as trimming and editing them.
United States Patent Application 20100306702
, simply titled "Radial Menus," is credited to Peter Warner of Paris, France whose LinkedIn profile shows him as a "Designer at Apple." The application was filed on May 29, 2009.