Apple Gets Multitouch Patent & Updates iPhone

Comes out swinging....

A couple of juicy Apple pieces this morning… (yep, pun very much intended – it’s the little things in life)

First up Apple has potentially thrown something of a spanner into the works of the Palm Pre by officially landing a patent for its multi-touch interface technology. Credited directly to Steve Jobs, patent number 7479949 in the US Patent Office is scarily comprehensive describing this intellectual property as:

””A computer-implemented method for use in conjunction with a computing device with a touch screen display comprises: detecting one or more finger contacts with the touch screen display, applying one or more heuristics to the one or more finger contacts to determine a command for the device, and processing the command. The one or more heuristics comprise: a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a one-dimensional vertical screen scrolling command, a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a two-dimensional screen translation command, and a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a command to transition from displaying a respective item in a set of items to displaying a next item in the set of items.””

Given Palm’s wonderful Pre mimics a great deal of iPhone multi-touch interaction (pinch to zoom, swipe gestures, etc) it is now unclear whether a) Apple will sue, b) Apple will demand royalty payments from Palm and any other company wanting to employ multi-touch or c) deny usage rights altogether potentially setting back its competition drastically. Should the latter be its preferred route expect some serious court action.

Palm shares have already dropped 10 per cent on the news, so we’ll be closely watching this space…

”’In related news”’ Apple has dispatched its latest iPhone firmware update into the wild. From what we have seen so far version 2.2.1 offers no great feature enhancements (copy & paste, MMS, video recording, email search, etc) but tweaks performance and improves stability – particularly in Safari. As ever, if you spot anything groundbreaking in it however – let us know…

Those with jailbroken and/or unlocked handsets note that this will almost certainly relock your iPhones. You have been warned!

Multi-touch Patent

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