GB2416868A - Method of representing separate applications as a single application. - Google Patents

Method of representing separate applications as a single application. Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2416868A
GB2416868A GB0413834A GB0413834A GB2416868A GB 2416868 A GB2416868 A GB 2416868A GB 0413834 A GB0413834 A GB 0413834A GB 0413834 A GB0413834 A GB 0413834A GB 2416868 A GB2416868 A GB 2416868A
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United Kingdom
Prior art keywords
application
electronic device
representation
according
applications
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Withdrawn
Application number
GB0413834A
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GB0413834D0 (en
Inventor
William Clark
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Sendo International Ltd
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Sendo International Ltd
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Priority to GB0413834A priority Critical patent/GB2416868A/en
Publication of GB0413834D0 publication Critical patent/GB0413834D0/en
Publication of GB2416868A publication Critical patent/GB2416868A/en
Application status is Withdrawn legal-status Critical

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F3/00Input arrangements for transferring data to be processed into a form capable of being handled by the computer; Output arrangements for transferring data from processing unit to output unit, e.g. interface arrangements
    • G06F3/14Digital output to display device; Cooperation and interconnection of the display device with other functional units
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F9/00Arrangements for program control, e.g. control units
    • G06F9/06Arrangements for program control, e.g. control units using stored programs, i.e. using an internal store of processing equipment to receive or retain programs
    • G06F9/44Arrangements for executing specific programs
    • G06F9/451Execution arrangements for user interfaces
    • GPHYSICS
    • G09EDUCATION; CRYPTOGRAPHY; DISPLAY; ADVERTISING; SEALS
    • G09GARRANGEMENTS OR CIRCUITS FOR CONTROL OF INDICATING DEVICES USING STATIC MEANS TO PRESENT VARIABLE INFORMATION
    • G09G5/00Control arrangements or circuits for visual indicators common to cathode-ray tube indicators and other visual indicators
    • G09G5/14Display of multiple viewports

Abstract

An electronic device comprises a graphical interface, and a processor operably coupled to the graphical interface, wherein the processor comprises or is operably coupled to a first application and a second application. The first application and second application are configured to independently present substantially the same representation to the user interface. In this manner, a copy can be made of an application image and used as a 'background' when transitioning between applications, thereby hiding a transition from a secondary application to a primary application (and vice versa) from a user of the electronic device. This makes the two distinct applications appear to a user as a single application.

Description

J - 1 -

ELECTRONIC DEVICE AND METHOD OF REPRESENTING APPLICATIONS

ON A USER INTERFACE

Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to an electronic device with a graphical interface represented by, say, a bitmapped display device. The invention is applicable to, but not limited to, a graphical interface such as a graphical user interface (GUI) used to represent a plurality of device applications.

Background of the Invention

Many modern day electronic products have some form of user interface. In particular, in computing and communication devices, the user interface (UI) is often a 'display' that is typically configured to present a large and varied amount of information to a user of the device.

In the context of a user interface, it is known that one or more UI areas are used to represent applications stored within the device and/or provide information to the user of the electronic device. The activating and viewing of a particular representation of data or application stored within the device is performed via one or more of these display areas, or 'windows' as they are known.

A UI can be displayed using a bitmapped display. A bitmapped display is a computer output device where each pixel, i.e. the smallest resolvable (rectangular) area of an image, displayed on the display screen corresponds directly to one or more data bits in the computer's .e ea.

e ee. tee e 2 - display memory. A UI on such a display is usually described as a graphical interface, with a popular version being a Graphical User Interface (GUI).

It is usual that the GUI of small computer devices requires, by the conventions of the used computer operating system, that all of the applications are full screen applications. When an application is full screen, then there can only be one application visible at a time, the currently 'active' application. The exceptions to this are partial screen 'modal' windows that present error, warning, query or short informative messages, all of which are always used within the context of the currently active application. A modal window is a less than full screen window, through which all user input is directed, until the window is removed from the device display.

It is known that many electronic devices are designed to support a primary application, which implements the primary functionality of the device, such as a telephony application in a mobile/portable telephone device. The primary applications are invariably very complex and typically software or firmware based. Adding any features or extra functionality to a primary application invariably affects the stability and reliability of the electronic device, degrading the primary functionality of the device.

Thus, the design of the additional feature or function often requires very significant effort, to re-stabilise and retain reliability of the primary application, and therefore of the electronic device.

As modern day electronic devices are often required to support many additional features and functions, improved e e ese ese e e e e ee e e e e e eve e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e - 3 - mechanisms to support such features and functions are needed, particularly so that they do not affect any primary application of the device.

To overcome this problem, in many current electronic devices, the additional features/functionalities are provided in a secondary application. A secondary application is often desired to offer extensibility and re-configurability to the device, without affecting the stability and reliability of the primary application of the device. In the context of a mobile telephone device, one or more secondary applications may include features/functions such as, but not limited to, camera and video image services, messaging services, music services and personal data management services.

In electronic devices such as mobile phones, the primary application is configured to be the default application.

Here, an electronic device employing any secondary application, such as a menu application feature, is configured to always revert back to the primary (default) application when the secondary application is not being utilised. The secondary application is therefore designed to have no interaction with the primary (telephony) application, other than allowing the primary (telephony) application to assume control and move into the foreground of the electronic device's display when the secondary application finishes. Thus, the default application is configured to not care what the secondary application is being used for, only to focus on presenting its image to the display when the secondary application finishes. - 4 -

Furthermore, in the context of a DI, it is generally preferable that a user of the device should not be able to differentiate between primary applications and secondary applications - in effect, both types of applications should appear as if they have been developed jointly and implicitly interact with each other, i.e. a secondary application must appear to a user as if it is integral to the primary application.

The inventor of the present invention has recognized and appreciated that the aforementioned requirements are restrictive to both the design and development of the primary application and of the secondary application(s) .

A need has therefore arisen for an improved mechanism for providing extensibility and/or re-configurability to an electronic device, for example via a DI, wherein the abovementioned disadvantages may be alleviated.

Stat _ nt of Invention In accordance with a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided an electronic device. The electronic device comprises a graphical interface and a processor operably coupled thereto. The processor comprises, or is operably coupled to, a first application and a second application. The first application and second application are configured to independently present substantially the same representation to the user interface.

In accordance with a second aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of representing a plurality of applications or data items on an electronic . . . :.:: :: e:. A: e . 5 device comprising a user interface and a processor having or being operably coupled to a first application and a second application. The method comprises the step of configuring a first application and a secondary application to independently present substantially the same representation to the user interface.

Thus, the present invention provides an electronic device with an improved user interface, and a method of representing a plurality of applications or data elements whereby, for example, a copy can be taken of an

application image and used as 'background' when

transitioning between applications. In this manner, the electronic device is capable of hiding a transition from a secondary application to a primary application (and vice versa) from the user. This makes the two distinct applications appear to a user as a single application.

In accordance with a third aspect of the present invention, there is provided a storage medium storing processor-implementable instructions for controlling one or more processors in such an electronic device.

In accordance with a third aspect of the present invention, there is provided an apparatus for coupling to an electronic device comprising an application for providing a representation of the application to a graphical interface. The application is configured to independently present substantially a same representation to the user interface as another application on the electronic device.

. .e.

ë . a ee. - 6 - Preferably, the electronic device is able to transition between displaying a representation of a primary application and a secondary application by independently displaying a substantial portion of substantially the same bitmap image to a user of the electronic device, without any substantial perception by a user that two distinct applications exist side-by-side.

Preferably, the primary application or one or more secondary application(s) copies a substantial portion of the bitmap image from the other application, to provide this seamless transition.

Preferably, an active application is located in a foreground of the displayed image, wherein, upon activating, the active application copies a bitmap from a previous active application, so that a bitmap representation substantially does not change.

Preferably, a bitmap image of a background application may be configured to be modified by a user interface, whilst the active application is located in a foreground of the displayed image. This allows a user of the device to dynamically change a displayed bitmap image, irrespective of whether the bitmap image relates to the current active application, or not.

Furthermore, the secondary application may be configured as a default application of the electronic device whilst the primary application is in an idle state, to avoid the primary application being affected by the functional operation, or changes made to, the secondary application.

* , * . . . . . . . * . * . . . * a a a l 7 - Preferably, the bitmap image may be a substantial portion of an entire image, or a whole image, to be displayed to the user, where a copy of a displayed image of the primary application image and/or a secondary application image is s taken each time the display is updated. In this manner,

it is possible for a bitmap image of a background

application to be updated, and, when required, incorporated into a foreground bitmap image.

Further aspects and advantageous features of the present invention are described in the appended Claims.

Brief Description of the Drawings

Exemplary embodiments of the present invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which: FIG. l illustrates a block diagram of a wireless communication unit, adapted to support the inventive concept of the preferred embodiment of the present invention; FIG. 2a and FIG. 2b illustrate functional block diagrams/flow diagrams of the processing interaction when a wireless communication unit supports a plurality of applications, according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention; FIG. 3 illustrates a representation of a display that can be manipulated or copied according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention; and a ace he 8 8 e e. 8 Be. e e e e 8 e e a e d' e e e e e l l - 8 - FIG. 4 illustrates a flowchart of a process for representing a plurality of applications (or items of data) employed by a wireless communication unit, in accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention.

Description of Preferred Embodiments

The preferred embodiment of the present invention is described with reference to a graphical interface (GUI) for applications and data stored on a wireless communication unit, such as a mobile phone. However, it is envisaged that the inventive concepts herein described are equally applicable to any electronic device having a display and capable of running multiple applications or illustrating multiple forms of data. Examples of such applications include: alternative wireless communication devices (such as a portable or mobile radio), computing devices, fixed communication devices (such as a public switched telephone network (PSTN) phone), personal data assistants (PDA), gaming devices, etc. Referring now to FIG. l, there is shown a functional block diagram of part of a wireless communication unit lOO, such as a mobile/portable phone, adapted to support the inventive concepts of the preferred embodiments of the present invention. The wireless communication unit lOO contains standard radio frequency circuitry, including an antenna 102 coupled to a duplex filter or antenna switch 104 that provides isolation between receive and transmit chains within the communication unit lOO. The receiver chain, as known in the art, includes receiver front-end circuitry 106 (effectively providing reception, filtering e ë .

. . ::: .. : :.

_ _ _. 9

and intermediate or base-band frequency conversion). The front-end circuit is serially coupled to a signal processing function 108. An output from the signal processing function 108 is operably coupled to a user interface 110 via an interaction medium 127. The user interface comprises one or more output devices, including a screen or flat panel display, in the form of a graphical interface 126 and one or more input devices, such as a keypad or keyboard 120.

For completeness, the receiver chain also includes received signal strength indicator (RSSI) circuitry 112, coupled to a controller 114 that maintains overall communication unit control. The controller 114 is also coupled to the receiver front-end circuitry 106 and the signal processing function 108 (generally realised by a digital signal processor (DSP)). The controller is also coupled to a memory element 116 that stores operating regimes, such as decoding/encoding functions, data, application code and the like. The memory element 116 is operably coupled to a primary application 109 and one or more secondary application(s) 111 in the signal processor function 108 via a communication medium 113. Notably, the one or more secondary application(s) is/are considered an adjunct to the primary application. The memory element, or a part thereof, may, in this context, be provided as a plug-in' module, for example to provide additional features/functionality via the one or more secondary application(s).

A timer 118 is typically coupled to the controller 114 to control the timing of operations (transmission or .. : : : : a:. :: :,: .,. .e:. 10

reception of time-dependent signals) within the communication unit 100.

Although the preferred embodiment of the present invention is described with reference to the applications being located within the signal processor function 108, it is envisaged that other data forms or processes may use the inventive concepts described herein. Furthermore, it is envisaged that one or more of the applications and/or data forms may reside external to the signal processor function 108. Indeed, it is envisaged that one or more of the applications and/or data forms may reside external to the mobile phone and may be stored in a memory/processor card or some form of hardware or software 'plug-in' module.

For completeness, as regards the transmit chain, this essentially includes the user interface 110 being operably coupled in series through transmitter/modulation circuitry 122 and a power amplifier 124 to the antenna 102. The transmitter/ modulation circuitry 122 and the power amplifier 124 are operationally responsive to the controller 114.

In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the signal processor function comprises a shell application (not shown) and an application programming interface (API). The API provides the mechanism for an executable representation of a primary application 109 and/or one or more secondary application(s) 111 and/or data relating to the primary or secondary application(s), to be provided to the display 126.

ë bee . .

e e ee.

_ l - 11 In the context of a wireless communication unit, the inventor of the present invention has recognised that it is important to ensure that a user's perception is that the primary log and one or more secondary application(s) Ill appear to be one and the same application. In this regard, the wireless communication unit is capable of hiding a transition from a secondary application to a primary application (and vice versa) from the user. Thus, two or more distinct applications are configured to appear to a user as a single application.

Notably, however, in practice in known configurations, the second application is nearly always configured as extensible to the primary application, so that it is quite separate from the primary application. In this manner, the functionality of the primary application is guaranteed, thereby providing the primary application function with stability and reliability. This means that when transitioning between a primary application and a secondary application, either the functionality of the single application is made excessively complex and potentially unreliable, or the two (or more) applications are not linked and thereby appear disjointed to a user of the device.

The inventive concepts of the present invention aim to solve these problems by provision of a mechanism to link the UI aspects of the primary application and secondary application(s), as described in greater detail with respect to FIG. 2a, FIG. 2b, FIG. 3 and FIG. 4.

Referring now to FIG. 2a and FIG. 2b, more detailed functional block/flow diagrams of a processing arrangement e ee- eee e e e are illustrated, where the functional elements have been configured to support the inventive concept of the present invention.

In FIG. 2a, the signal processing arrangement, which is preferably the signal processor 108 of the wireless communication device of FIG. 1, is arranged such that a secondary application 201 is the active application.

When the secondary application 201 wishes to draw a graphical representation of itself to an output device, for example the display 126 of FIG. 1, it passes data comprising graphics information (graphics primitives) to a "graphics context", which for the illustrated embodiment is a display device independent graphics context 202. The device independent graphics context is a type of graphics context designed in such a manner that an application can pass graphical data thereto without requiring knowledge of the type of graphical output device that is, in fact, attached to the executable code comprising the graphics context.

The graphics context 202 interfaces with a screen graphics device application 203. The screen graphics device application 203 transforms the graphics data to a form suitable for use by a bitmapped display device 206 (for example the screen 126).

The transformed data is then passed to a display driver 204 (adaption layer) of the screen graphics device 203.

The display driver 204 then writes the graphical information to a display memory 205, which holds the graphics data for the bitmapped display device 206. .

:e::-e:: ë . . . - 13 In accordance with the present invention, the secondary application 201 is capable of causing the current content of the display memory 205 to be stored in a further area of memory of the device. In this manner, the secondary application (and any other subsequent secondary application) utilises substantially the same graphical information for the display. In the illustrated embodiment this is achieved by the secondary application 201 passing an instruction to the screen graphics device 203 to take a copy of the current contents of the display memory 205.

The data constructed by taking a copy of the display memory 205 is then passed to a bitmap driver 207. The bitmap driver 207 then uses the data passed to it to create a bitmap file 208.

Preferably, the secondary application 201 causes the bitmap file 208 to be "recreated" (e.g. updated or overwritten) whenever the secondary application 204 updates the graphical information that will be displayed by the bitmapped display device 206.

Alternatively, where the secondary application performs a plurality of updates to the graphical information that will be displayed by the bitmapped display device 206 within a short period of time, it causes the bitmap file 208 to be re-created once. Preferably the re-creation of the bitmap file is performed after all of the updates have been made. This reduces the burden on the signal processor function, say, signal processor function 108 of FIG. 1.

ë2.e . 2 In FIG. 2b, the signal processing arrangement is arranged such that a primary application 211 is now the active application, and the secondary application 201 (of FIG.

2a) is a background application.

In this arrangement, the primary application 211 accesses the bitmap file 208 previously created by the secondary application 201, via the bitmap driver 207. The primary application 211 uses the data contained within the bitmap file 208 to create graphical data elements for its own graphical representation. For example, the primary application 211 is able to use a portion (or all) of the displayed image of the secondary application 201 to provide a background for the displayed image of the primary application 211. The graphical representation of the primary application 211 is then passed to its graphics context 212.

In the same way as for the secondary application, the graphics context 212 of the primary application interfaces with the screen graphics device application 203. The screen graphics device application 203 transforms the graphics data to a form suitable for use by the bitmapped display device 206.

The transformed data is then passed to the display driver 204 (adaption layer) of the screen graphics device 203.

The display driver 204 then writes the graphical information to the display memory 205, which holds the graphics data for the bitmapped display device 206.

Thus, when the secondary application 201 is made a background application, by the primary application 211 . . ,.

: . . . . - 15 becoming the active application, the now active primary application 211 uses a copy of the graphical data of the secondary application 201 stored in the bitmap file 208 to create a 'background' for the graphical representation of the primary application. In this way, the 'look and feel' of the primary application 211 is made to be consistent with the 'look and feel' of the secondary application 201, giving the impression to the user that they are a single application.

Consequently, a user of the device is given the impression that there has been no change in application (i.e. that the combined functionality/features of the primary and secondary applications 201, 211 are provided by a single application). Furthermore, the secondary application 201 can be preferably configured to provide additional and/or alternative features/functionality without impacting on the reliability and stability of the primary application.

It is within the contemplation of the present invention that, in some instances, it may be desirable to store the entire display (i.e. to copy the entire graphical representation of the secondary application 201).

Alternatively, it is envisaged that it may be desirable, in some instances, to copy a smaller portion of the display that is of particular interest.

In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, only selected areas of the bitmap file 208 are used to generate the 'background', i.e. the primary display image. As an example, and referring now to FIG. 3, let us consider a bitmap comprising a copy of a possible graphical representation of an entire display 300.

a a cue ala e e e a eel e e a _ a He e e e a e l The bitmap comprises a number of panes, i.e. self- contained and distinct areas of a display (effectively providing sub- windows), which present respective pertinent information/data to the user. The illustrated bitmap preferably comprises a context pane 310, a title pane, 320, a navigation pane 330, a content pane 340 and a soft- key function pane 350. A skilled artisan will appreciate that the illustrated bitmap is only one example of a large number of pane configurations that are possible, and that any number, of substantially any size located anywhere within the entire bitmap can be used and employed by the inventive concepts herein described.

In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, it is proposed that those areas that are selected for the

background, i.e. the areas that are copied between

applications, are the "Content pane" 340 and the "Navigation Pane" 330.

Thus, and notably, the primary application is therefore designed with its own context pane, title pane and soft- key function pane for displaying to a user.

More generally, according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention, it is envisaged that a secondary application may be programmed or incorporated by suitable means into a respective wireless communication device, in any suitable manner to effect such an improved user interface mechanism. For example, a new memory element or signal processor may be added to the wireless communication device.

. . . ë e .. e e e e e e e e e ee . l Alternatively, existing parts of a wireless communication device may be adapted, for example by reprogramming one or more signal processors 108, or uploading data to a memory element 116, therein. As such, the required adaptation may be implemented in the form of processor- implementable instructions stored on a storage medium, such as a floppy disk, hard disk, programmable read only memory (PROM), random access memory (RAM) or any combination of these or other storage media.

With the emergence of 'plug-in' technology as a mechanism to introduce software temporarily into an electronic device such as a mobile phone, it is envisaged that 'plug in' applications are particularly suited as a preferred mechanism to provide one or more improved secondary applications. Thus, it is envisaged that any secondary application may be provided via multiple plug-ins, in order to support multiple representation styles.

In the context of the present invention, the expression plug-in' encompasses any special purpose "helper application". A skilled artisan will appreciate that one such application, from a plethora of potential applications, could be the provision of a small software program that helps a Web browser interpret certain types of media files. In this regard, a 'plug-in' is a separate executable that is used as a secondary application in a mobile phone.

In an enhanced embodiment of the present invention, it is envisaged that a secondary application may comprise one or multiple executable codes. Thus, if the user is able to select from multiple executable codes, it is possible for ace He e l - 18 a user to fully customise his/her UI interface (or desktop' in the computing domain), dependent upon the context and means provided to represent the application.

The provision of a customizable secondary application enables a user to avoid the restrictions associated with the representation of the application being limited to predetermined images, say provided at the point of manufacture. For example, by selecting executable code for one or more applications from a number of executable codes, a user is able to customise the UI to enable easy access to key secondary applications, such as email, web- access, telephone contacts, messaging, etc. Thus, it is envisaged that third party software manufacturers are able to provide apparatus, such as a plug-in module, for coupling to an electronic device having a graphical interface. The secondary application may then be configured to independently present substantially a same representation to the user interface as another (primary) application on the electronic device as described above.

Referring now to FIG. 4, a flowchart 400 illustrates an image interaction process for representing a plurality of different applications in greater detail. The image interaction is illustrated between a primary application 410 and a secondary application 420, with the respective applications coming to the foreground of the display, as and when they are required by the user of the wireless communication device.

In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the primary and secondary applications are initialised at : ë. e. A: : :-: : : a:. : :... .. .e - 19 start-up of the mobile phone and are preferably always running whilst the mobile phone is switched on.

Preferably, the secondary application is configured to be the defaultapplication of the device. That is, in a mobile phone context the primary telephony application is only 'active' when receiving or making a call. When the primary telephony application is activated, the primary application copies a portion of the display memory as it moves to the foreground of the display. In all other instances it is envisaged that a secondary application will display substantially the same portion of a display memory to a user of the mobile phone, as in step 425. In this manner, the primary application and the secondary applications independently present substantially the same bitmap image(s) to the user, i.e. the secondary application does not sit on top of the primary application and not affect the UI.

It is envisaged that the wireless communication device's processor will make a copy of the displayed image, each time the display is updated. This new image will be stored each time as a bitmap, for example in memory element 116 of FIG. 1, as shown in step 430.

It is yet further envisaged that the copying process may exist in either direction between a primary application and a secondary application, where either bitmap image may be fixed and therefore requiring copying when transitioning between applications, i.e. the primary application may always adopt the latest secondary application bitmap image that was employed.

Alternatively, the applications may be configured such ë tee e A . . . - 20 that both applications continuously adapt their respective bitmaps.

If we assume a preferred default condition exists of the secondary application utilising a copy of the primary application's bitmap image, then the displayed image will change when the primary telephony application is invoked in step 435. The invoking of the primary telephony application may occur when a character is entered via a keypad or when a call is received.

When this happens, a copy of the displayed image data of the secondary application is used as "background" for the primary application, as shown in step 440. Thus, the primary application independently displays substantially the same image to the user as the secondary application, when it is invoked. Here, the secondary application then resides in the background, i.e. it is hidden from the user.

In this regard, the use of the copy of the graphical data as a 'background' when transitioning between applications hides the transition from secondary to primary (and vice versa) from the user, thereby making the two distinct applications appear a single application.

Ultimately, the primary application will be terminated, for example when all characters have been entered or have been deleted or when a call is finished, as shown in step 445. When the primary application is terminated, the secondary (default) application is then displayed to the user, with the latest copy of the graphical data from the : ... es.

e a ë e e eve e e e .

a e e - 21 bitmap file. Here, the primary application returns to the

background, as shown in step 450.

It is envisaged that other (secondary) applications may also be running (e.g. an 'appshell' application from which applications can be launched) at the same time.

In such a context, both the initial secondary application and the primary (e.g. telephony) application will be running in the background, i.e. both hidden from the user.

In a further enhanced embodiment of the present invention, it is envisaged that when the phone is operating in an in-call' state, a user may still be provided with the ability to switch foreground applications between the telephony application and, say, the initial secondary application or other applications, if (s)he so wishes, to access information contained in one or more pane(s) of the other application.

In effect, the primary application's displayed image is unlikely to change over the duration of the call, as its telephony function does not typically actively and dynamically require use of the display. Thus, in this manner, substantially at all times when the telephony application is in the foreground, the content area would show a "current" representation of the secondary application view, using the previously copied graphical data.

Referring back to FIG. 2a and FIG. 2b, it is envisaged that a user may wish to interact with the secondary application, whilst the primary application is in operation. However, the screen graphics device 203 will . .e. . . , :': : : ë : .. : . . - 22 only allow the active application to update the content of the display memory 205 (i.e. to update the image being displayed). Thus, if the primary application is in the foreground, the secondary application is typically unable to update the display. This specific operational scenario may be viewed as a disadvantage in the context of the present invention, since the aim is to give the impression to the user that the primary and secondary applications are a single integral application.

In using the copy of the graphical data of the secondary

application display as background for the primary

application display, whilst the primary display is in the foreground, the background area is fixed. Thus, if the secondary application needs to update its display, it would not be shown by the primary application display.

Clearly if a user expects the display provided by the secondary application to 'update' or change regularly, then it would be obvious when the primary application is in the foreground that the expected updates or changes are not taking place. Thus, the desired illusion of a single application may be broken.

To overcome this problem, in an enhanced embodiment of the present invention, illustrated with respect to FIG. 2b, the secondary application is configured as being able to update the bitmap file 208, even though it is no longer the active application (and thus denied access to the display memory 205). When the secondary application 201 becomes a background application, its graphic context 202 detaches from the screen graphics device 203 and attaches to a bitmap graphics device 213. The bitmap graphics device 213 is then connected to the bitmap driver 207.

: * * : *.... ..... . : * r In this way, when the secondary application 201 wishes to update the image being displayed, whilst being a background application, it passes data comprising graphics information to its graphics context 202, in the same way as if it were the active application. Instead of passing the graphics data to the screen graphics device 203, the graphics context 202 of the secondary application 201 passes the graphics data to the bitmap graphics device 213. The graphics device 213 transforms the graphics data into the required form (i.e. bitmap data) and passes this to the bitmap driver 207. The bitmap driver 207 then updates or overwrites the bitmap file 208 in accordance with the received bitmap data.

The primary application 211, which is currently the active application, includes at least a portion of the contents of the bitmap file 208 to create its own graphical representation, which is passed to the display memory 205.

Consequently, by updating the content of the bitmap file

208, even when it is a background application, the

secondary application 201 is capable of influencing the content of the display memory 205, and thus the image being displayed.

Furthermore, and advantageously, the primary application 211 is configured to regularly update the background image from the bitmap file 208, to ensure that any changes to the bitmap file 208 are included in the display information stored in the display memory 205.

Thus, by updating the bitmap file 208 in this manner, the secondary application 201 is able to indirectly influence see de e a ae due e a e * e a J a e e e e e e what is being displayed, whilst the primary application 211 is in the foreground.

It is within the contemplation of the present invention that the inventive concepts described herein are applicable to any user interface of an electronic device, such as a computer or mobile phone interface, that uses a graphical display to represent files and/or applications stored therein, or coupled thereto.

It will be understood that the improved user interface mechanism, as described above, aims to provide at least one or more of the following advantages: (i) A more useful and intuitive user interface is supported, with a plurality of distinct applications (and/or data items) having executable code(s) that appear to a user to utilise substantially the same image data.

(ii) It extends the functionality of a device, such as a mobile phone, in that one or more secondary application(s) can be generated, say by third party suppliers, in a manner that appears to a user as if the secondary application is an integral (rather than distinct) function of the device.

(iii) It provides a mechanism to readily customise a UI, irrespective of the operational state of the device.

(iv) It provides the ability to execute secondary applications within an interactive medium, by causing the transfer of 'representation' control to the applications themselves.

Whilst the specific and preferred implementations of the embodiments of the present invention are described above, it is clear that one skilled in the art could readily :.. .0. . ...

. . . . . - 25 apply variations and modifications of such inventive concepts.

Thus, an electronic device and method for representing a plurality of applications or data items thereon have been described where the aforementioned disadvantages with prior art arrangements have been substantially alleviated.

: : ... ..e : - 26 Cla s

Claims (2)

1. An electronic device (100) comprising: a graphical interface (110); and
a processor (108), operably coupled to the graphical interface (110), wherein the processor (108) comprises or is operably coupled to a first application (111) and a second application (109); the electronic device (100) characterized in that: the first application (111) and second application (109) are configured to independently present substantially the same representation to the user interface (110).
2..e.., ; .'
2. An electronic device (100) according to Claim 1, wherein the second application is a primary application (109) of the electronic device (100) and the first application is a secondary application (111) of the electronic device (100).
3. An electronic device (100) according to Claim 1 or Claim 2, wherein the first application (111) copies or causes a copy to be made of a representation associated with the second application (109).
4. An electronic device (100) according to Claim 3, wherein the first application (111) copies or causes a copy to be made of a substantial portion of the representation associated with the second application (109) .
5. An electronic device (100) according to any preceding Claim, wherein the electronic device (100) A...:-. :::e - 27 further comprises a display memory operably coupled to the processor such that first application (111) copies or causes a copy to be made of a representation stored in the display memory, such that the stored copy is used to present substantially the same representation to the user interface.
6. An electronic device (100) according to any preceding Claim, wherein the representation is a bitmap representation.
7. An electronic device (100) according to any preceding Claim, wherein the second application (109) functions predominantly in the background of the user interface and the first application (111) functions predominantly in the foreground of the user interface (110).
8. An electronic device (100) according to Claim 7, wherein the first application (111) when operating in the background is configured to update a bitmap representation of the second application (109) when active operating in the foreground.
9. An electronic device (100) according to any preceding Claim, wherein the representation is a portion of an entire image to be displayed on the graphical interface (110).
10. An electronic device (100) according to any of preceding Claims 3 to 9, wherein the processor (108) is configured to take a copy of at least a portion of a displayed image each time a representation is updated.
. . e. . - : : . - 28 11. An electronic device (100) according to any preceding Claim, wherein the processor (108) copies graphical data from a first application to be used by a second application, and overwrites respective portions of the representation with updated image data.
12. An electronic device (100) according to any preceding Claim, wherein the electronic device (100) is: a cellular phone, a fixed PSTN phone, a gaming device, a personal data assistant (PDA), a portable or mobile radio or a computer.
13. A method (400) of representing a plurality of applications or data items on an electronic device comprising a user interface and a processor having or being operably coupled to a first application and a second application; wherein the method is characterized by the step of: configuring (440) a first application and a secondary application to independently present substantially the same representation to the user interface.
14. A method (400) of representing a plurality of applications according to Claim 13, the method further characterized by the step of: copying or causing a copy to be made, by the first application, of a representation associated with the second application.
A.. I:. ::.
15. A method (400) of representing a plurality of applications according to Claim 13 or Claim 14, the method further characterized by the step of: copying a substantial portion of a bitmap image from the first application to the second application.
16. A method (400) of representing a plurality of applications according to Claim 14 or Claim 15, wherein the method is further characterized in that the step of copying comprises copying a bitmap representation from a display memory.
17. A method (400) of representing a plurality of applications according to any of preceding Claims 13 to 16, the method further characterized by the step of:
modifying a bitmap image of a background
application whilst an active application is located in a foreground of the displayed image.
18. A method (400) of representing a plurality of applications according to Claim 17, the method further characterized by the step of: copying a representation of an image each time a displayed representation is updated.
19. A storage medium storing processor-implementable instructions for controlling one or more processors in the electronic device according to any of preceding Claims 1 to 12 or perform the steps of any of Claims 13 to 18.
20. An apparatus for coupling to an electronic device (100) comprising an application for providing a 2. e. ..e - 30 representation of the application to a graphical interface (110), wherein the apparatus characterized in that: the application (109) is configured to independently present substantially a same representation to the user interface (110) as another application (111) on the electronic device (100).
21. An electronic device (100) substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to, and/or as illustrated by, FIG. 1 of the accompanying drawings.
22. A method of representing a plurality of applications or items of data on an electronic device substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to, and/or as illustrated by, FIG. 2a or FIG. 2b or FIG. 4 of the accompanying drawings.
GB0413834A 2004-06-21 2004-06-21 Method of representing separate applications as a single application. Withdrawn GB2416868A (en)

Priority Applications (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
GB0413834A GB2416868A (en) 2004-06-21 2004-06-21 Method of representing separate applications as a single application.

Applications Claiming Priority (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
GB0413834A GB2416868A (en) 2004-06-21 2004-06-21 Method of representing separate applications as a single application.

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GB0413834D0 GB0413834D0 (en) 2004-07-21
GB2416868A true GB2416868A (en) 2006-02-08

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GB0413834A Withdrawn GB2416868A (en) 2004-06-21 2004-06-21 Method of representing separate applications as a single application.

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Citations (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US5425141A (en) * 1991-12-18 1995-06-13 Sun Microsystems, Inc. Managing display windows of inter-related applications using hollowed windows
US6031534A (en) * 1993-04-28 2000-02-29 Microsoft Corporation Operating system function for specifying a checked image representation and an unchecked image representation of a menu item
US6710788B1 (en) * 1996-12-03 2004-03-23 Texas Instruments Incorporated Graphical user interface

Patent Citations (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US5425141A (en) * 1991-12-18 1995-06-13 Sun Microsystems, Inc. Managing display windows of inter-related applications using hollowed windows
US6031534A (en) * 1993-04-28 2000-02-29 Microsoft Corporation Operating system function for specifying a checked image representation and an unchecked image representation of a menu item
US6710788B1 (en) * 1996-12-03 2004-03-23 Texas Instruments Incorporated Graphical user interface

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