A number of Apple patents have been released this week. Some of them deal with further refinement of touchpads (probably most of them represent versions which won’t make the light of day). One interesting example is a scroll touchpad for an iPhone that looks a lot like a present iPod. The innovation Apple suggests appears to resemble an old rotary telephone more than anything (everything old is new again!). Also, Apple seems to have got around to putting a patent application for the iChat interface - one version they show shows a three-way text chat. Another application has a description of a local area broadcast system for the iPhone (or similar product), allowing location/person specific information/applications to be sent to anyone in range. Imagine being in an Apple store/Ikea and being able to just click off on you iPhone the products you wanted and pay by credit card and then just pick them up at the counter. Mmmmh, we’ll see.
A multifunctional handheld device capable of operating in different modes includes a single input arrangement that provides inputs for each mode of the multifunctional handheld device. The single input arrangement includes at least an input pad that provides signals when touched or pressed. The input pad may for example be a touch pad. The input pad is divided into one or more input areas that change in accordance with the current mode of the multifunctional handheld device. The multifunctional handheld device also includes a display device that presents graphical elements to indicate the configuration of the input areas at the input pad. Each mode of the multifunctional handheld device provides a different configuration of input areas and graphical elements associated therewith.
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