Smartphone makers and OS builders alike are constantly filing new patents to keep up with the competition in the intellectual property arms race. Google’s latest patent calls upon a new radial menu design for inclusion in a future OS, lending itself very much to Samsung’s own radial menu design.
Radial menus are nothing new to smartphones. Android itself had a radial menu way back with the tablet-oriented Honeycomb (Android 3.0) version of the OS. More recently, Samsung’s Note 3 smartphone features a radial menu in its Air Command feature, which appears once an S Pen stylus has been removed from the device. This new patent features a much more in-depth type of menu design compared to Air Command or nay other menu design, offering deeper options, much like a right click of your mouse might offer on Windows.
The patent details the menu to work based upon touch input. You would pinch your forefinger outward from your thumb, revealing a radial menu. The menu then can offer a selection of menus and submenus for the user to choose from. According to the patent, the menu system can determine the right size and type of menu depending on the circumstances of the smartphone, as well as the type of device in use.
We must note that a patent proves nothing about Google’s intention to use the technology. Tech companies, Google included, are notorious for filing as many patents as they can to keep a legal edge on the competition whenever there’s innovation. Still, a radial menu design is certainly an attractive option for many smartphone owners, and Samsung has proven with its own radial menu in the Note 3 that it’s something they’re interested in, too. We’ll have to wait and see though to find out if there’s any significance to this new menu design.