The multi-layer wave launcher that could have been | webOS Nation

The multi-layer wave launcher that could have been 36

by Derek Kessler Mon, 28 Nov 2011 7:06 pm EST

The wave launcher bar is one of our favorite underappreciated features of webOS (and one we wish would come back to webOS tablets). Don’t know what we’re talking about? Drag up from the gesture area – voilà, there’s your quick launch bar, on top of whatever the other thing you’re doing is. It’s single-gesture launching into your most used apps. But could there be more to it? If Palm’s patent on the wave launcher (no. 12505543 A1, User Interface For Initiating Activities In An Electronic Device) is any indication, yes, there could be more. And it makes us sad that there’s not.

The patent was filed on July 20, 2009, not long after the original Palm Pre launched on Sprint. It describes in typical detailed fashion the wave launched, complete with if/then flowcharts to describe the intended behavior. But things get interesting on page thirteen, where the application starts talking about the next evolution of the quick launch bar: subordinate quick launch bars for apps.

The illustration above demonstrates just one possibility: drag up and hold on Contacts and the launcher opens a second wave above the first with your five favorite contacts. Drag over to Jenny or Roger and release to place a call, send an email, or open that contact (the patent application’s not specific on that, but we imagine you’d be able to program specifically what action to take for each contact). Though not really described in the application, there are also two illustrations of the subordinate wave instead launching as a grid, enabling a user to have more than just the five contacts available for quick action.

If the wave launcher was a bit of “dude sweet” user interface design, the evolution of subordinate launchers would have had us scraping our brains of the back wall. Just a few use cases we can think of that would tickle our fancy:

  • Contacts: Hold on the Contacts app to show your favorite contacts, and then hold on a contact to show phone, text, IM, and email options.
  • Web: Bookmarks!
  • Twitter and Facebook: Hold to show quick launch actions like mentions, messages, new post, etc.

And if we were to go even further, there could be an interesting evolution on top of this by enabling quick display/widgets by holding on an app. For example: holding on Calendar to get a quick Agenda look at your schedule, or holding on a weather app to get the current conditions and forecast.

But alas, this may never be. There’s nothing truly fantastical or futuristic about this patent. Conceptually speaking it’s not much more complicated than the current wave launcher, it just takes that next step to streamline functionality even more. Like the wave launcher itself the operation of the phone is not contingent upon this multi-layer UI. One could go for years without ever knowing that there is a wave launcher, but the experience is enhanced by its existence. Will we ever see the multi-layered wave launcher? Probably not, but one can dream, right?

Source: Google Patents; Kudos to Levi for the find!


Why must you make me sad?

Remember when Jon asked us "How's that for newness?" It was my favorite feature on my pre- and I miss it on my Touchpad. But it still works on my Pre3's!

This would have been amazing. Kinda brings a tear to my eyes.

that would have been a verry sweet thing!

Gesture Area is one of the best things ever, really miss on the Touchpad and always want to use it on other smartphones, but they never respond..

How sad, I was able to get a Touchpad on Black Friday. After I started using it I found myself flicking up from the "Gesture Area" on my iPhone trying to put the App into card view. It's to bad HP screwed the webOS fanbase over. They even removed the gesture area from the touchpad. I used to love the wave launcher and the Advanced Gestures on my Palm Pre. I have vowed to never buy another HP product again. The last HP product I buy will be the HP Touchpad which is also probably the last webOS product out.

Did the same thing on my fact I downloaded a program called wave launcher on my evo which does the same thing for two dollars cause I missed that launcher so HP printers for me...

awww man....*face in pillow*

honestly i never like much or used that feature.

On a related note i'm not particularly a fan of such user interface based patents. Seems to come too close to protecting an idea for me.

I guess everyone wants to wax nostalgic over a feature that hardly anyone ever used. This was a visual gimmick that was good for making the UI look interesting but there are plenty of threads in the forum that describe how nobody used it.

Maybe your right, nobody really used it. But I personally, used to love the wave launcher. I used to use it all the time.

I used it constantly on my Pre. I patched away the home screen icons so when I wanted to shortcut to something I pulled up the wave bar. I probably used it 20 times a day.

I got rid of the launcher bar so I could use my wave launcher!

Nobody here! I use it every time I pick up my phone! (ok, nearly every time...)

So you do know that an app developer has already implemented this with a much more comprehensive set of customization settings, right? Unfortunately, it's for Android phones:

Good to know if I ever decide to switch. Probably won't work on my version of Android, lol.

That simply has folders. While this could conceivably do folders, it's more about diving into an app without opening it first.

Derek, you can also add widgets as items to the wave, and there are widgets that do a list of favorite contacts, so effectively it does the same thing as what the article describes. I'm not saying it's as elegant as webOS would do it, but Android is pretty powerful if you explore all the various third party UI tools and tweaks (without needing to root). Again, maybe not as elegant as webOS, but there's a lot of ways you can tweak it to your liking.

I consider webOS kind of in the middle in terms of the tweaking philosophies of iOS (locked down unless you break your warranty) and Android (fairly open even without rooting). webOS presents elegant starting points, and provides a mechanism for tweaks ala patches, but unfortunately, it seems that degree of tweaking is a bit more challenging in webOS. So much is now built into the internal launcher and there's no good way of creating 3rd party launchers as Android has, so you have to rely on HP to continually improve and add functionality, while Homebrew attacks the edges...


its a nice feature but I never use it on my phone. I do miss the swipe area though.

Why does webOS have to be so amazing?!?!

... and HP sofa king we todd ed.

all the innovation we missed out on...

The current wave is useless, because you can swipe up and tap anything on the quick launch bar before the bar would have appeared if you had swiped up and held.

However, the multi-layer wave is much more interesting, as it has the potential to save a lot of time. It's a shame that we'll probably never see it come to life.

I'll be crying myself to sleep tonight.

Nice find. This should have been in the os a long time ago.

since we've discussing patents that could have been I wanted this one so badly for the TP

This is like finding out that girlfriend you broke up with two years ago just became a Victoria's Secret model.

My question is if the patent was filed in July of 2009 why it never saw the lights of day? It most likely took several months to write the patent application, and most applications are for technology you are already implementing, so why didn't they do it?

That would be really functional. Sad it probably wont come to reality.

I've always appreciated the wave bar. So much that I dreamed of new ways it would be implemented in the TouchPad. But what can you do..

This is an application, and not a patent. Also, there is no A1 next to the application number; that would instead be for it's publication number.

Wonder if a really talented developer could create a patch with some of this functionality... I bet they could.

This was discussed in the forums over a year ago:

As I noted then and there, this is a published application and, at least as of then, not a granted patent (though I haven't checked the PTO site to see if that's changed).

Still have my original Pre a scr*w fell off and i have to squeeze it together so my speaker can work.....and i would still prefer it to ios or android. HP f*cked everything up. Oh well, i'll hold on to my pre untill it collapses in my hand.

I really want a mew webOS phone. too bad its not coming out anytime soon.

This was discussed in the forums over a year ago:

As I noted then and there, this is a published application and, at least as of then, not a granted patent (though I haven't checked the PTO site to see if that's changed).