Apple has been granted a patent on much of the user interface model underlying much of its iOS operating system. The patent covers a "portable electronic device, method, and graphical user interface for displaying electronic lists and documents" and could represent a major weapon for the iPhone maker in its ongoing legal struggles with a variety of Android handset manufacturers.
Apple's patent centers around the innovations necessary to make a touchscreen -- instead of physical buttons -- the primary means of interacting with information presented on the screen. The patent presents UI modules for blogging, email, video player, calendar, browser, search, and many other features. It also covers the multi-touch actions featured on the iPhone, the device's virtual keyboard, and many other features.
The iPhone's debut in the smartphone market five years ago brought about a massive shift in the way phones were designed and marketed. Indeed, before the device was revealed, major smartphone manufacturers thought its design impossible. In the years since, though, the design of the iPhone has remained the standard for most manufacturers.
Today's patent news will likely spell trouble for those phone makers inspired by the Cupertino company. When the iPhone was revealed back in 2007, the late Steve Jobs made certain to note that the company had heavily patented the technology powering the device. Since the arrival of Google's Android operating system, Apple has engaged in fierce and protracted legal battles with companies manufacturing handsets running the system. The new patent, no doubt, will provide Apple with another, even sharper angle of attack in the months to come.