Apple Awarded Patent for Contact Aware User Interface in Messaging Applications
Outlining the "Generation of a user interface based on contacts", the patent describes how a conversation can be displayed over a background image associated with a contact. Users have the ability to assign a photo to a single contact to serve as a background, while the image itself can be adjusted to be dimmed or alpha-blended with a background color to ensure greater message readability. If an image is not assigned, the interface could also generate a default male or female image based on contact information.
The concept also carries over into group chats, as one user can be highlighted while others are greyed out to display who sent the last message. Alternative methods described in the patent also include showing contact thumbnails in a Cover Flow or carousel fashion, as well as layouts that center and increase the thumbnail of the most recent contacts with animations for emphasis. The patent also describes a potential API for third party developers to integrate the user interface into their own apps.
As with other software patents, it is unknown whether Apple plans to include this dynamic user interface in future versions of Messages or other apps. However, Apple could make changes to the Messages app in iOS 8, which is expected to be unveiled next month at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Recent rumors have suggested that iOS 8 will feature a focus on health-related applications along with enhancements to Maps and Siri.