AppleInsider reports that last December Apple Inc. filed a patent application describing an enhanced user interface that allows individual icons to be sized according to the users preferences within a window.
“Apple said it has developed a user interface which allows a user to adjust the size of icons based upon the user’s preference or based upon a characteristic of the objects that the icons represent.”
Previously, we’ve heard rumors that Leopard will allow the user to determine icon spacing but this new enhancement goes way beyond mere aesthetic tweaks to provide important information at a glance. From what I understand, the user could either change the size for each icon individually or set rules for types of icons. For example, you could have all folder icons change size depending on how many items the folder contain. This way you could glean the information at a glance, rather than reading the individual information for each icon.
If you could change the criteria to match your needs – so the size of your icons would relate to the information that you care about – then this would be one of those minor improvements that wind up totally changing how you interact with your machine on a day to day basis. For me, ExposÃ© changed how I move around windows on the desktop. Each time I use ExposÃ© I save a second or two but, over time, it ads up to big time savings and better efficiency.
What’s most exciting about the promise of a multi-sized icon interface, is the new importance given to icons and the challenges this will bring to icon designers. Possibilities abound!