Google introduced a basic radial menu gesture in Android 3.0 Honeycomb for the browser in tablets and has played with it ever since. Yesterday, the US Patent & Trademark Office published Google's patent application revealing the advancement of the radial menu. Samsung introduced their version of the radial menu known as "Air Command" with last year's roll out of the Galaxy Note 3. Google's new radial menu provides greater detail with a sub-menu feature.
Google Invents Touch Screen Radial Menus
One of Google's latest inventions generally relate to graphical user interfaces involving a radial menu. The radial menu may be a circular menu configured to include a set of menu items corresponding to commands, functions or options that are activated upon selection within the radial menu.
In some configurations, a radial menu is a circular menu configured to include a set of menu items corresponding to commands, functions or options that are activated upon selection within the radial menu. For instance, a radial menu is graphically depicted as a circle shape with respective segments dividing the circle shape. Each segment of the circle shape may be associated with a command, function or option for the radial menu.
Google's patent FIG. 1 noted above conceptually illustrates a graphical user interface (GUI) (#100) for providing a radial menu which can include one or more display areas with different sets of graphical elements. A graphical element can include, but is not limited to, a button, check box, radio button, slider, list box, drop-down list, menu, combo box, icon, text box, scroll bar, etc.
As illustrated, configurations of a radial menu for a touchscreen are shown in three different stages noted above as #110 (as Stage 1), #120 (as Stage 2) and #130 (as Stage 3). The radial menu may be a contextual menu provided by an operating system and configured to accept touch input from a user to activate and enable interactions with the radial menu.
The Three Stages of the Radial Menu
As noted in stage 1, noted as #110 in patent FIG.1, the user uses their thumb to act as an anchor point noted as a yellow point in the graphic. The user then stretches a second finger out on the touch screen to determine the radius of the pie shaped radial menu. In many cases the radial menu will have a predetermined size it will generate depending on the size of the display that you're working on (phone, tablet or desktop).
Google further notes that while keeping the first finger disposed in the center of the radial menu, the user may rotate their hand while swiping with the second finger according to path #117 and/or path #119 (on FIG. 1) in order to select a respective menu option in the segments #102 or #106 provided in the radial menu.
In stage 2, noted as #120 in patent FIG. 1, the user has moved their second finger from the second point #2 to a third point #3 outside of the initial appearance of the radial menu. Once outside the GUI for a radial menu appears the user can have their finger extend beyond the border of the radial menu to see if a sub-menu will pop-up as shown in stage 3 of FIG. 1 noted as #130.
In Stage 3, noted as #130 in patent FIG. 1, Google notes that the sub-menu (light orange) in some configurations is a portion of a concentric circle that extends beyond the radius of the initial radial menu that includes segments #102 (light blue), #104 (purple) and #106 (pink).
It is noted that the sub-menu does not have the same display area as the initial radial menu and covers a display area that is smaller in comparison to the initial radial menu.
Within the sub-menu, one or more additional menu options may be provided. As shown, the example sub-menu includes a number of sub-divided segments (#140, 142, 144, 146, 148, 150, 152, and 154) corresponding to respective menu options.
In some configurations, as the user is moving the aforementioned second finger along one or more paths within the radial menu or the sub-menu, the GUI may provide for display a graphical indication, such as a "glowing" arc, to indicate the path of the second finger on the touchscreen.
As the second finger further moves along a corresponding path, the GUI may provide another graphical indication, such as a dot or set of dots being displayed when a different menu option is newly selected by the second finger along with corresponding text for the newly selected menu option that appears alongside the dot(s). Other types of graphical indications may be provided and still be within the scope of the subject technology.
Google's patent application was published yesterday (March 13, 2014) by the US Patent Office. The original filing was made in Q3 2012. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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