Apple grabs patents for Photo Booth, Fitness Center apps

Dec 29, 2011
Tech

New patents awarded to Apple by the U.S. Patent Office suggest the iOS mobile platform creator may be creating a fitness app to add to its stable of iPhone and iPad apps. Patently Apple has the story, which marks major patents Apple has won for a new app as well as an established one. The […]

New patents awarded to Apple by the U.S. Patent Office suggest the iOS mobile platform creator may be creating a fitness app to add to its stable of iPhone and iPad apps.

Patently Apple has the story, which marks major patents Apple has won for a new app as well as an established one. The existing app is Apple’s Photo Booth, which rolled out with the release of the iPad 2. It’s the first patent Apple has won for the app, which allows users to alter photos in real time using their devices’ front-facing cameras.

From the looks of the fitness center patent, Apple’s app may make a lot of other fitness apps in the iTunes App Store obsolete. The app covers things like showing users how to use gym equipment and providing in-gym and post-workout motivation. It also has social networking integration, which isn’t too surprising given how deeply Apple has worked Twitter into the latest iteration of its mobile platform, iOS 5.

As Patently Apple reported when the fitness center app patent first appeared back in April, it seems Apple is covering all of its bases. The app may include some kind of partnership with Nike, with one illustration in the filing using the terminology “Nike Training Club Class.” It appears as though Apple wants the app to cover all aspects of a workout, gathering workout stats for its users and even helping find local workout buddies with its social networking capabilities. The app may also be able to work directly with actual fitness centers, integrating with their servers to schedule classes, provide maps to their locations and check the availability of workout equipment.

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While Apple has won a patent for the fitness center app, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll ever get around to releasing one. Apple has lots of patents for lots of things that don’t exist, but the possibility is there. With so much success coming from Apple-made native apps for its mobile platform, however, it seems like the possibility we’ll be seeing an Apple fitness center app is a pretty strong one.

Back in the Photo Booth department, Apple has won a patent that covers the basic functionality of the app, which allows users to add filters in real time to video being shot by their devices. Those filters create a “mosaic” of several different video feeds on the screen of an iPad, so you can see lots of different effects at once. Here’s an explanation of the patent from Patently Apple:

A computer-implemented method, comprising: providing for display a mosaic having a first cell and a second cell, the first cell displaying a video with a first visual effect, the second cell displaying the video with a second visual effect, the second visual effect being different from the first visual effect; receiving a selection of the first cell and the second cell, the selection including a drag and drop input that drags the first cell and drops the first cell onto the second cell; creating a third visual effect, the third visual effect including both the first visual effect and the second visual effect; and capturing at least one frame of the video; and applying the third visual effect to the captured frame of the video.

It doesn’t necessarily sound like that patent will have an effect on other apps that might be kind of like Photo Booth in the App Store, but Apple now has the legal ammunition to deal with any apps it thinks might be stealing from the Photo Booth playbook.

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Hopefully we’ll be seeing Apple’s take on fitness in the future, but only time will tell if its new patent actually ever goes anywhere. Knowing Apple, though, if the company can innovate on an existing idea and make it even better, it will. That’s good news for iOS users.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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