In a massive 371-page patent filing, Apple has filed for patent rights on almost every aspect of the iPhone’s UI and functions. The USPTO has just published the patent application and it looks like Apple’s aiming for long-run success with the iPhone – with Steve Jobs taking credit for inventing the iPhone.
The recently published patent filing not only mentions functions that we’re used to playing with on the current-generation iPhone, but it also makes references to features and functions that could possibly show up in a future iteration of the iPhone (3G iPhone?).
Among the more interesting tidbits from the verbose filing is Apple’s patent for a “Touch Screen Device” that sports integrated GPS, an “optical sensor” for video conferencing, and possibly even a physical “click wheel,” a la the iPod (Classic). We’re already hearing that the 3G iPhone will indeed launch with GPS hardware built-in and there’s even speculation that the new iPhone will feature a front-facing video-call camera – all of which agrees quite conveniently with the patent application.
But, the patent application doesn’t end there. Filling out the rest of the 371-page patent, Apple makes mention of additional software features that we can only hope will make it in to the 3G iPhone. iPhone users have lamented Apple’s decision to leave out features like MMS picture and video messaging, video/audio capture, instant messaging, and Java software from the current-generation iPhone. So, Apple’s mention of such features in the patent filing gives us hope that Apple will finally be bringing those sorely missing capabilities to the next-generation iPhone.
The patent application also hints at the possibility of native Quicktime and Flash media playback through the iPhone’s Safari browser. Interestingly, the mention of Flash in the patent application seems to be at odds with Apple’s unwillingness (at this point) to give Adobe more extensive iPhone SDK access. Adobe needs to be able to create browser plug-ins to make native, browser-based Flash playback a reality, but Apple is keeping browser plug-ins off-limits for now.
And, to give more credence to the recent discovery that the iPhone OS 2.0 firmware will support geo-tagging of pictures, the patent application mentions the use of GPS hardware to append location-data to other applications.
There are enough 3G iPhone-related rumors out there to keep us busy for the next week or so, but it’s good to see that Apple is seriously considering putting highly sought-after and rumored features in to future iPhone iterations. We’ll be keeping an eye out come next week when Steve Jobs is expected to headline the WWDC Keynote speech with the next-generation iPhone in hand.