Jelly Bean already works around Apple's pinch-to-zoom patent

Jelly Bean already works around Apple's pinch-to-zoom patent
Well, there’s a whole lot of interesting mobile patent news today. On top of fact that Samsung is lying in wait to spring a legal trap if Apple launches an LTE iPhone this fall, while Apple and Google’s CEOs are holding cease-fire meetings on a regular basis, it turns out that Google has quietly implemented a new type of pinch to zoom in Jelly Bean that doesn’t violate Apple’s so-called ‘915 “pinch to zoom” patent.

The key here is that Apple’s patent isn’t actually on the idea of pinching your screen to zoom – that would be a classic idea of trying to patent an idea, and would be thrown out (it may be thrown out anyways once the prior art plays a bigger role in subsequent legal action). Instead, the ‘915 patent is on a specific way to translate the movements to a zoom, and for some else’s implementation to infringe they have to copy all parts of the patent.

The key part, as pointed out by The Verge’s Nilay Patel, can be found in one of the key elements of the patent:



Notice the part in bold? That sentence restricts Apple’s patent to implementations where one finger is an anchor and the movement of the other one is what the device uses to create the zoom animation. Allow both fingers to move apart to perform the zoom maneuver and Apple’s patent is not infringed.

Apple is no dummy – their patent was written this way for a reason; first, you can’t patent the concept of pinching to zoom. Second, it’s a great way to simplify the motion so the CPU does the minimal amount of work possible, since anchoring the calculation at the first touch means that the mobile device only has to calculate the path that the second finger travels. But CPUs are much more powerful in 2012, and it turns out that it’s not really hard to have a phone or tablet calculate vectors for both (or multiple) fingers and create a zoom effect from that motion.

Of course Google doesn’t employ many dummies either, and their engineers have apparently already figured this out and implemented such a dual-finger-moving zoom in Jelly Bean. This is easiest to see if you have a JB-equipped Galaxy Nexus or Nexus 7 next to an iPhone or an iPad, but if you open up Chrome on Android 4.1 and zoom, it definitely reacts in terms of both positioning and zoom to movement by either finger, or both (or you can vary which one is moving during the pinch process). You can also initiate a pan while zooming.

There isn’t much chance this was accidental, especially since a Google spokesperson confirmed to The Verge that "Apple's '915 patent claims a very specific software implementation, and the implementation is different in Jelly Bean."

Samsung’s loss to Apple may seem like the end of the world to some Android fans. As we’ve written, Samsung may gain several wins on appeal if their lawyers put on a better showing. But Apple’s patents have restrictions as well (or else they would certainly be thrown out, as may indeed happen to some of them), and once you pay close attention to those limitations, a team of clever engineers can usually achieve the same or similar effect without infringing on a valid patent. So rest assured, you will be able to pinch to zoom in all future versions of Android.

Although this raises an intriguing question: did Google file for a patent on their implementation of pinch to zoom? And if so, do they plan to simply license it out (and would Apple respond by then licensing theirs out, rather than concede this revenue source to Google?). Time will tell we suppose.

source: The Verge

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71 Comments

71. solidsnakeduds013

Posts: 221; Member since: Oct 20, 2010

The wars will never end

70. rusticguy

Posts: 2828; Member since: Aug 11, 2012

But i can already do that on Sony Xperia P on ICS -- ie zoom per google way on browsers.

62. paulislegend

Posts: 42; Member since: Mar 15, 2012

"As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously." -Benjamin Franklin

61. fervid

Posts: 183; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

I'm confused here. I always zoom in Android by moving both fingers. I noticed keeping one still works too and on my Note some combinations actually cause my pictures in Gallery to rotate which is annoying. So, on an iPhone you only move one finger???

58. Aeires unregistered

What's next, Samsung will release they are making their phones from the color #000001 instead of #000000? And people who think patents are the answer to fixing all the problems are really not looking at the mess properly.

57. shuaibhere

Posts: 1986; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

My motorola in androids head in that picture.....

53. darac

Posts: 2156; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

ATTENTION. I have a proposition for a whole new zooming in/out mechanism. Here's hoping someone at Google is reading this: Placing the whole tactile surface of the thumb on the screen initiates the zooming mode. From there, moving the thumb up makes the content zooming in, moving down zooms it out. Ta-da :)

51. bomariam1

Posts: 43; Member since: May 08, 2012

We have to stop Apple mafia from manipulating technology, they have to share it with other instead of stopping them.

30. skymitch89

Posts: 1453; Member since: Nov 05, 2010

Funny you mention that this is a JB feature, my Evo Shift does the same thing with GB. I can scroll/move the page around and zoom at the same time by using 2 fingers that are moving,

21. Savage unregistered

Google really knows it's stuff. "We infringe on your patent? Watch how we work around it to give users similar experience." All that remains is for the Jelly Bean update to roll out ASAP.

20. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

In a way...I took the side in that article about the case being won by Apple being a good thing for Android. Even if it causes folks like Google and Samsung to think a lil bit differently....so be it. Samsung already have tilt the phone to swipe and zoom....just make the feature a major part of Touchwiz and keep it moving.

13. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Huh, I just double tap to zoom in and out on my NEXUS 7 - lol, what a useless patent, or rather, another useless patent, by Apple.

23. stealthd unregistered

Not useless enough for it to be omitted though.

49. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Double tap to zoom is apparently patented by Apple too.

52. MeoCao unregistered

Double tab to zoom is not essential as pinch to zoom and can be replaced easily.

55. Non_Sequitur

Posts: 1111; Member since: Mar 16, 2012

I actually use pinch to zoom way more, so I don't really care if double tap gets replaced. I'm sure most people feel the same way.

12. Snap123

Posts: 33; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

Can someone explain to me how Samsung plans to go about suing Apple for using LTE. Correct me if im wrong but since Apple will most likely be using Qualcomm chip for LTE doesnt that mean they have the licence from Qualcomm to have LTE on their phone. And from an another article Qualcomm has more LTE patents than Samsung has. Im sure Apple is smart enough to cover themselves by using Qualcomm's LTE patents. This is all so confusing.

22. Scott_H

Posts: 167; Member since: Oct 28, 2011

Samsung is estimated to own something crazy like 10% of the patents related to LTE. So they undoubtedly have some that aren't covered by patent exhaustion.

26. CamaroSS

Posts: 173; Member since: Jul 24, 2012

Scott, Apple will be using Qualcomm LTE chip and nobody will be able to get a single penny from Apple by suing over LTE. Don't forget that Apple, Samsung make commodities that cost couple hundred bucks. Network equipments and protocols are the real technology and those are invented/patented by companies like Ericsson, Nokia, Siemens, Qualcomm, and Huawei. So don't propagate some garbage posted by koreantimes citing some underpaid anonymous Samsung exec. Real world is a bit different from the emotional world our PA fanboys live in. And you as a writer are supposed to act more rationally.

28. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 2011

"Real world is a bit different from the emotional world our PA fanboys live in." Brilliant!!!

34. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

I think your comment could have been more arrogant.

50. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

That makes no sense. Anyone can patent a technology, even tech that can become a standard. If he's smart enough, a guy in his basement can come up with a tech innovation that could one day become a standard. The reason you mostly see it from larger corporations is because they have more capital for r&d, but that doesn't mean they're the sole innovators. Another thing you see quit often is an individual or small group comes up with a concept and a large corporation either buys the rights to it or hires them to continue development on it. BTW, I notice you didn't mention Motorola, they invented the cell phone. Samsung had the UMTS standard that most cell phones use. To say that Nokia has "real tech" but Samsung doesn't, I just don't see how you can come to that conclusion.

39. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

The real question for Sammy's LTE-related patents is whether they can be construed to be standards essential.

11. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

And boom goes the dynamite. Now the trick is to actually GET JELLY BEAN TO THE MAJORITY OF NEW DEVICES SELLING TODAY, DAMMIT.

14. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

xda can help

16. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

That's not the point. The point is to get the update out officially so Apple can't get devices banned for their pinch to zoom patent. I'm sure that "Well, customers can just go and get non infringing software from XDA!" is not an argument that would sit well with a judge or jury.

18. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

its a great "light the fire under their ass" point to manufacturers AND carriers to get 4.1 out and pushed to as many devices as possible... at least to their current sellers. Maybe one day we can thank Apple for being such a litigious ass, since the accidental byproduct is a massive update push by google, through manufacturers and then pressuring carriers to send them faster, if somehow the P2Z patent isnt thrown out on appeal. Maybe this will force google to start twisting carrier arms to speed up/kill the approval process that makes so many updates take extra months? that would be nice.

27. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 2011

U.S carriers would not allow it.

33. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Would not allow what? Quick updates? Sadly, you're right, and they consistently seem to be at the bottom of the slow update cycle. Remember how Motorola got the Wifi only XOOM updated to ICS barely a month after ICS was originally out, and now the XOOM is already on JB? The Verizon XOOM just got ICS in June, and still no JB. The carriers are assholes.

48. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 2011

and i hate it as much as you do,,, as only in the States this happens..

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