Apple is always on the vanguard of user interface and user experience. GUIs, mice, pens, and capacitive touchscreens are all technology that Apple was quick to implement, and they are often the first company to market on any large scale. Turns out, radial menus are being researched fairly heavily for both desktop and touch screen devices.
[quote]In this granted patent, Apple notes that radial menus will be both for the desktop and portable devices. Radial menus will work with a mouse and/or touch commands on multi-touch displays using a finger, stylus and/or iPen. The timing of this granted patent comes on the heels of Google’s radial patent filing coming to light in this current quarter. Obviously there’s a race to get radial menus on portables and beyond – and Apple’s in-depth trio of patents now give them a definite edge.[/quote]
While the stylus “iPen” mentioned is almost certainly a CYA maneuver, it is interesting. Famously, Steve is on record as saying that if you see a stylus, they blew it. It would be fairly amusing if Apple then actually shipped a stylus.
While I have used a similar function in browsers using Cortex, this would be a fairly interesting way to deal with menus on iOS. Tap and hold, and you get a contextual radial menu. Much better than what we have now when we tap and hold links. While this patent information is by no means a promise of future implementation, it does give us hope for more refined UI from Apple in the coming years.
Source: Patently Apple