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A new patent made public by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week and discovered by AppleInsider could hold the key to a new graphical interface for the way contacts and music are displayed on an iOS device.

The patent filing, named "Segmented Graphical Representations for Recommending Elements" shows Apple is looking (or at least was looking, the patent was originally filed back in 2009) at ways to improve the drab text-based interface of the Contacts app, as well as bringing a new interface to the company’s touch-enabled iPod apps.

The filing mentions a new contact screen that could use contextual cues to alter the display to fit a user’s situation. An example could be when on a call to someone from a particular company. The patent would allow for the new interface to then change to show graphical contacts for people who also work for that same company, possibly improving efficiency.

"Unlike an alphabetically organized address book, this interface may allow [the] electronic device… to provide an address book that is intuitive to the user, and may enable a user to quickly call a number of users from the same contact group in succession,"

Music would be handled in a similar way. A playing tack could be the basis for a new screen showing album art from that particular artist, with links to iTunes imbedded. New pinching and zooming could also be part of the interface, the patent says.

It’s no surprise that Apple would be looking at more graphical ways of presenting information on its iOS devices, especially with the new higher resolution screen in the iPhone 4. What is surprising though is the date on the patent itself. Originally filed in September 2009, the patent is 18 months old. Is Apple holding onto a new interface, possibly for iOS 5?

With a new notification system high on the iOS 5 wish list already, hopefully the next point-0 release of Apple’s mobile operating system will live up to the expectation!

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