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Jul 8, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Microsoft Lays Claim To iPad’s Page Curling Feature

The Courier may be dead, but we are still getting to see the innovations built by Microsoft back when development on Courier was still in its prime. A patent application filed by Microsoft back in January 2009 describes the page curl feature – exactly the way it is implemented on the iPad’s iBooks app.

In the application, Microsoft writes,

“One or more pages are displayed on a touch display. A page-turning gesture directed to a displayed page is recognized. Responsive to such recognition, a virtual page turn is displayed on the touch display. The virtual page turn actively follows the page-turning gesture. The virtual page turn curls a lifted portion of the page to progressively reveal a back side of the page while progressively revealing a front side of a subsequent page. A lifted portion of the page is given an increased transparency that allows the back side of the page to be viewed through the front side of the page. A page-flipping gesture quickly flips two or more pages.”

Microsoft Page Curl

To be fair, virtual page curling is neither Apple’s nor Microsoft’s innovation. At least as far as I can remember, the functionality was already available on the iPhone app named Classics.

It will be interesting to see if Microsoft indeed wins rights to this subtle yet interesting feature

23 Comments

  • While I realize this is an electronic patent, the whole page turning thing has been occurring since there were printed pages bound into books. Did Microsoft apply for this patent when Gutenberg made the printing press? Will they use this as leverage to now extract royalties from every book publisher? Those printed pages having this curling feature too. Are they going after the Kindle? I’m sure somewhere Microsoft is hard at work trying to get a patent on the process for breathing air so they use that next.

  • Sweet move Microsoft! I hope it is granted. Gotta wonder why Apple didn’t try and patent this themselves.

  • That’s great that the page curl is a Microsoft invention. They’ll get plenty of money for owning that patent. There are very few books and magazines and newspapers in this world that the page doesn’t curl to some degree when you turn the page.

  • Hasn’t Adobe’s Flash enabled PDF’s been doing this for years?

  • How exactly is Microsoft “laying claim” to the iPad feature? I see no evidence of any action by MS toward Apple here, am I missing something?

  • Subtle yet interesting feature?? Uh… It’s called a page. You turn it, it curls. Are you guys serious?

  • Just like Apple’s claim that they invented today’s common user interface (windows, pull-down menus, etc.) after seeing Xerox’s designs. Steve Jobs told Daniel Morrow in a 1995 interview: “I remember being at Xerox in 1979. It was one of those sort of apocalyptic moments. I remember within ten minutes of seeing the graphical user interface stuff, just knowing that every computer would work this way some day; it was so obvious once you saw it. It didn’t require tremendous intellect. It was so clear.” He may regret those words again.

  • What claim by Apple? Apple paid to visit Xerox, and paid another sum in acknowledgement of the Mac interface’s inspiration. The actual interface was quite different tan Xerox’s, as was the underlying concept. Xerox also was an integrator of other’s inventions, most of which were used in CDC’s Plato platform in the late 1960s, though not as flexibly as Xerox’s Smalltalk motif.

  • I used to subscribe to a PDF-based magazine in the middle of the last decade that used a page curl to indicate a turning page. True, this was moused-based and not finger-based, but still. And this was well before Microsoft’s patent application. Seems to me this would be covered under “prior art,” but then lots of patents have been given for dubious claims in the past…

  • I saw this on my Atari back in the 80′s! It’s amazing what they try to patent these days. The patent system is obviously broken.

  • Microsoft can’t win for losing. Since Microsoft never created a product with this feature, they will lose in court. They are full of sour grapes.

  • @Paul – No Paul, the quote is this:

    “And they showed me really three things. But I was so blinded by the first one I didn’t even really see the other two. One of the things they showed me was object orienting programming they showed me that but I didn’t even see that. The other one they showed me was a networked computer system…they had over a hundred Alto computers all networked using email etc., etc., I didn’t even see that. I was so blinded by the first thing they showed me which was the graphical user interface. I thought it was the best thing I’d ever seen in my life. Now remember it was very flawed, what we saw was incomplete, they’d done a bunch of things wrong. But we didn’t know that at the time but still though they had the germ of the idea was there and they’d done it very well and within you know ten minutes it was obvious to me that all computers would work like this some day.”

    So the fact Apple built their entire GUI OS without any help from Xerox, plus they paid Xerox for these visits, then couple all that with everyone uses the MacOS UI today, not the Xerox one means Apple was fully ethical. You are probably thinking of Microsoft who stole parts of the Mac UI and later had to pay Apple $150 Million in 1997 to pay for the thefts.

  • @Patrick – not sure what you mean, that feature is worth hundreds of millions, perhaps billions since who owns it can block competitors… so customers won’t want a product that doesn’t have that beautiful curl that Apple spent so much time to perfect. this is an extremely important UI element, so you need to look further into the subject. pick up an iPad, go to the books app, flick a page, then you’ll see why this is a serious issue.

  • Classic example of how Apple makes “cool” stuff and Microsoft makes money.

  • in related news…GOOG down 35% since December 2007…

  • LOL. Did you read that description? In other words, make the the page on the display simulate the turn of a paper book page. The idea is ridiculously simple and obvious. We already know the patent system for software is broken. If something like this comes anywhere close to being patentable, the system is a complete joke.

  • try hypercard

    circa 1987

  • The British company Quantel made the electronic page curl that could be controlled by touch (in this case, using a wacom pen) DECADES AGO (late seventies, early eighties). See Quantel Henry computer. I used one to create a lot of visual effects for TV shows in the 90s.

  • @Paul

    The only thing more annoying than your ignorance is your laziness. Why don’t you try googling the Apple and Xerox before posting on forums?

    It is well known that all Xerox did was allow Jobs to spend an hour or two in their labs looking at their interface. They did not share any code or ideas. In return for the tour, Xerox was allowed to invest $100 million in Apple, which gave them a great return. As mdfischer pointed out, the technical foundation of Apple’s interface are very different from Xerox’s. Apple developed everything on it’s own – unlike M$ which used it’s position as a developer to get a preview of Apple’s code and then stole Apple’s ideas.

  • “Classic example of how Apple makes “cool” stuff and Microsoft makes money.”

    Yeah, Apple makes COOL stuff that makes loads of money. Apple is speeding past Microsoft in market cap and overall worth as a result. Microsoft robs losers blind with mostly inferior tech experiences.

    Video page curls have also been around forever. Typical Microsoft doing a Seagullish “Mine, Mine” when it clearly ain’t. Ain’t nothing original or innovative there at MS folks, move along!

  • The iPad’s page turning ~????
    Have a look at Issuu or any online magagzine that runs on Ceros, plenty of prior art long before MS or Apple. Are we really going to let tech companies patent software versions of real world interfaces that is far from innovation on anyones part.

  • @ Ted

    This has been around since at least the 90s, you need to get out more.

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