Either way, there is no reasonable way that this patent should be granted, but no one ever said the USPTO was a reasonable organization, and it certainly wouldn't be the first time Apple or any other company were granted a patent for something that already exists. We'll try not to get too worked up as this is just an application, but the fact that Apple even applied means it knows there's a chance it could be granted. Of course, there's very little likelihood that the patent would stand up in court, but there would almost certainly be a wasteful lawsuit following this patent around.
Update: We felt it necessary to add this addendum to the article, because as usual the fanboys on both sides of the aisle have missed the point completely. We are not annoyed at Apple applying for this patent, because that is Apple's right within the system. It is merely a symptom of the problem. We are annoyed that the system allows for patent applications like this, and that often these sorts of patents are accepted, regardless of prior examples.
It is the US patent system that is horribly broken, especially in regards to technology patents. Apple didn't come up with this technology, and neither did Google. Intellectual property laws and patents stifle innovation by producing incredibly wasteful lawsuits because the USPTO doesn't know how to deal with technology patents. We don't blame Apple for using the system the way it is designed. We blame the system for being broken.
Ideas cannot and should not be patented, because ideas are all built on what came before. Apple and Google built their mobile platforms on the ideas of Nokia, RIM, Palm and the other companies that came before, and Nokia, RIM, and Palm built on the work done by companies before them, and on and on and on. That's how innovation works. No one owns knowledge or ideas. No one owns innovation. It's just how evolution works, and all patents do is slow down evolution.