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Apple’s new app-switching patent could spell trouble for Android

December 21st, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Apple recently won an injunction that could prevent HTC from importing several Android phones into the United States, and now it has been granted a patent for a technology that may drastically affect how Android vendors design their devices and user interfaces. The Cupertino-based company was granted a patent titled “Portable electronic device with graphical user interface supporting application switching,which basically means Apple has been awarded a patent for switching apps while on a phone call. That’s a pretty valuable patent, considering most smartphones allow users to switch to a new application while on a phone call. As CBS points out, the broad wording within the patent documentation could make it very hard for Apple’s competitors to create a workaround. For example, the patent describes how a user might use his or her finger to tap a menu and choose another application — something that can currently be done on all smartphones. Read on for more.

Although Steve Jobs did vow to destroy Android, it’s still unclear if or when Apple might use this new patent to sue its competitors. One possible option, as CBS explains, could be to “force other companies to implement the feature in a way that is clumsy, inelegant or cumbersome.”

There is no doubt Android has made great strides in the last few builds, the most notable of which is Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). If Apple continues to be awarded patents that make it harder for Android users to perform tasks without fumbling through complicated interfaces, however, Apple could potentially gain huge advantages over Google’s mobile platform, which is currently the most popular smartphone OS in the world.

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