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Apple aims 3D at the desktop

A newly-award patent envisions a desktop GUI with tilted windows displayed in a three-dimensional array.

Apple's envisioned 3D desktop.
Apple's envisioned 3D desktop.

Apple is looking to bring a bigger dose of 3D to the desktop, at least based on details unveiled in a freshly-awarded patent.

The patent, dubbed simply "Browsing and interacting with open windows" and awarded Tuesday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, describes a desktop interface that lets you peek beyond the standard three-dimensional Cover Flow view already found on the Mac. Also part of Safari, that view lets you flip your way through open windows until you find the one you want.

In the patent, Apple envisions a way that you can tilt the desktop interface, essentially providing more of a bird's eye view, so that windows and other background objects are revealed. You could tilt the desktop through a specific keyboard combination or a touch-based gesture, assuming the screen is touch-enabled.

You can then more easily pick the window you want to see without having to flip through the entire batch. After your chosen window or application becomes active, that item's menu bar pops up to display all of the needed controls.

As the patent describes it in typical patent-ese:

In various implementations, within a three-dimensional desktop, the open windows can be displayed in a three-dimensional browsable parade. As the user browses through the open windows in the browsable parade, the open window passing through a designated primary location of the three-dimensional desktop becomes the current active window of the desktop. An application menu bar of the current active window can be displayed on the three-dimensional desktop. The application menu bar and the active window together provide the full range of interactive capabilities that the native application environment of the open window would allow, even though the open window is currently displayed within the browsable parade.

(Via AppleInsider)