‘Pull to refresh’ — Yep, Twitter is patenting that

No? Seriously? I was just reading Sarah Perez’s latest column over at TechCrunch and it seems Twitter wants to patent “pull to refresh”. You know that thing your official Twitter client does when you need to refresh your feed? Yep, Twitter is getting a lock down on that.

I never really noticed that you couldn’t do it with other apps, especially core iOS or Android ones. As Perez points out, however, none of these companies can actually implement this while Twitter is in the middle of a patent application.

The application is titled: “User Interface Mechanics” and the inventor of this technology is listed as Loren Brichter — the guy who apparently created Tweetie. That iOS app Twitter bought in 2010 which is now the official iOS Twitter client? Yep that’s where all this began.

Brichter invented “pull to refresh” and now that Twitter owns him, I mean his technology it now owns “pull to refresh”.

The technology is described as following:

Methods, computer readable media, and apparatuses for providing enhanced user interface mechanics are presented. In one arrangement, a scrollable list of content items may be displayed. Input associated with a scroll command may be received. Then, based on the scroll command, a scrollable refresh trigger may be displayed. Subsequently, the scrollable list of content items may be refreshed in response to determining, based on the scroll command, that the scrollable refresh trigger has been activated. In at least one instance, it may be determined that the scrollable refresh trigger has been activated in response to determining that the scroll command was completed while the scrollable refresh trigger was fully displayed.

This is just another in a string of patents that I just cannot bring myself to understand. We might all chirp Twitter for doing this, but let’s track back for a second. Ever heard of a little company called Apple? Yes, those guys, the patent whores that patented the swipe motion (because it’s a predefined path) when unlocking your mobile device, the rubber-band effect on a Mac and the company once told Samsung that the overall shape of the devices shouldn’t be rectangular and should not have rounded corners. Patent on shape? You’d better build a round or triangular device that has a cluttered appearance because that’s what Apple wants.

My question, why would anyone patent action so natural and expected like swiping to unlock a phone or pulling to refresh a feed? Apple? Twitter? Anyone? I suppose we should have expected this beahviour from Twitter being Apple’s new BFF and all. That’s right, Twitter is Apple’s official social network as the only one featured on OS X Mountain Lion. It now makes sense that Twitter is following in Apple’s footsteps. Perhaps Twitter will allow Apple to use “pull to refresh” for free in its core iOS apps.



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