Apple patent hints at gesture-based file transfer for iOS devices

New patents filed by Apple suggest we may soon be able to metaphorically pour files between iOS devices, as well as use our busy hands to create 3D graphics.

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Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon Editor At Large, Lead Photographer, Europe
Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
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Andrew Lanxon
2 min read

Set your faces to 'excited', data-transfer fans. Apple patents have emerged that suggest you may soon be able to use physical gestures to transfer files between your iOS devices. Another patent, also unearthed by Patently Apple, deals with 3D gesture recognition on touchscreen gadgets.

Rather than share files over the Internet or iTunes, you could soon be able to use pouring and flicking gestures to transfer your files to other Apple devices. Apple's patent describes how a user could select files on an iPhone and then physically tilt the device over an iPad to 'pour' the files between the two devices.

Alternatively, a user could select a file and flick it off the screen in the direction of a nearby iOS device, which would then receive the file. Sounds fun.

The other patent concerns 3D gesture support in iOS devices. Apple apparently hopes to track your fingers in 3D as they move away from your device's screen. For example, by pressing three fingers on the screen and pinching them together as you move them away from the display, you could create a pyramid shape on your device.

This feature seems to be aimed at game developers and CAD designers, who'd be able to create, edit and manipulate 3D models on their device.

While we're keen on the idea of flinging files to devices across the room, we're trying not to get too excited just yet -- Apple has a habit of filing numerous patents and either abandoning them completely or taking a long time to bring any of them to fruition. We don't expect to see these features turning up in the iPhone 5 or iPad 3 when they're eventually released.