Sat 9 Jul 2011
Apple appears to be getting on board with a trend that other companies have already made significant headway on: wirelessly transferring content between devices with different owners. PatentlyApple has dug up a patent application from last year showing the various ways Apple thinks consumers might want to flick, vacuum, or pour files from one device to another.
Apple took a big step toward seamless content transfers with the introduction of iCloud, but that only handles the devices of one user. Apple's competitors are currently a step ahead when it comes to sharing information between devices that aren't necessarily tied to the same user account. (For example, Google has the unreleased Deep Shot, while HP has webOS's Touch to Share.)
In its patent application, Apple shows various ways that files could be sent from one device to another, such as "pouring"—tipping the first gadget over the second like a tea kettle and letting the files tumble out. Another method involves moving one device—say, an iPhone—over the display of another, like an iPad. While the iPhone moves over the surface of the iPad, it would suck up the displayed files, like a vacuum.
Another sharing method strongly resembles the capabilities of the upcoming Wii U controller. Apple proposes that one device could send a file, picture, or piece of data to another by simply flicking it in that device's direction, even across a room. Apple also includes examples in the application of this sharing method being used to move files to broader categories of computer devices, like projection screens or electronic whiteboards.
The patent application is mostly conceptual and lacks technical details, such as whether devices sharing with each other would have to be connected via Bluetooth. And, as always, a patent application doesn't mean it will be implemented. Still, we expect Apple to move on these transferring techniques soon, given the progress of similar technologies from competitors. After all, what's a shiny gadget owner to do when he wants to show his friends a picture—let them handle his phone with their greasy fingers?