Apple Files Patents for 3-D OS Interface

By  |  Thursday, December 11, 2008 at 3:10 pm

apple-logo-2As everybody knows, when Apple files for patents, the tech media is whipped up into a frenzy with speculations of what the filings may mean. The latest discoveries by Slash Lane (that can’t be his real name, can it?) at AppleInsider are no different.

According to the latest filings, Apple is working on a three-dimensional user interface which would maximize screen real estate by essentially layering them on the two-dimensional screen.

The filing was made in June, about the same time Apple began detailing its work on Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6). AI notes that none of these UI elements have made an appearance in builds of the upcoming OS as of yet.

Simply put it appears as if the user would almost be working in a box of sorts, with a top, bottom, and two sides. Each side would be able to hold some type of data or interface element.

It appears from the filings that the new desktop would always include a floor and a left or ride side, with the top used as needed. Even so, it would mean for the first time in the history of the Mac OS the main menubar would not be positioned at the top of the screen.


The OS would make use of already 3-D like aspects of 10.5 such as ‘stacks.’ However, it would all be controlled to create the perception of depth. Even further, aspects like the floor could be controlled to show only portions of it at one time, allowing the amount of data sitting their to be “vast and sprawling” as Lane puts it.

For more detailed information, see the AppleInsider post.

While this all sounds quite interesting, I have to agree with the chatter that this may make Mac OS overly complex. I think the real challenge in getting this 3-D desktop to work is how to make it so that it doesn’t become so difficult that learning how to use it drowns out any potential benefit.

Even so, its nice to see operating system developers begin to question the status quo of today’s standard user interface. Really, not much has been done to change the way we interact with our PCs and Macs outside the current two-dimensional window-based interface.

Lets see where this goes.


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2 Comments For This Post

  1. DTNick Says:

    ” Even so, it would mean for the first time in the history of the Mac OS the main menubar would not be positioned at the top of the screen.”

    If Apple were ever to implement this, I’d expect the menubar to stay at the top of the screen; otherwise MAc UI purists will complain about the lack of adherence to Fitt’s Law.

  2. Ed Oswald Says:

    Fitt’s law? Never heard of this.