In December 2014, we reported that Microsoft was working to bring an 'exploding tile' paradigm to the Windows 10 operating system. The user interface feature would make a Live Tile explode into small tiles with information provided from the app.
The feature was later to be called Mix View, and it just got published with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Interestingly, the application was filed just a few months before our report in August 2014, and the filing was just published today.
Update: The original version of this article noted that the patent was approved, however, it was merely published by the USPTO and not granted by them.
Mix View was supposed to go hand-in-hand with Nokia's McLaren smartphone. That phone had a 3D Touch interface letting users hover their finger over the display. The virtual push gesture would cause certain tiles to then 'explode' into smaller tiles with more user information. Some of the design influence came from the Zune era of design but combined with some very advanced gesture detecting hardware.
McLaren was cancelled in July 2014 due to hardware issues and other project failures. This decision at the time sealed the fate for the high-end Lumia portfolio as that phone was the next flagship.
In today's publishing patent filing we can see some of the ideas behind the design as well as possible implementations. The filing is full of technical jargon as expected:
Regarding hardware usage:
And a more concrete example of the idea in action:
This filing accurately matches our description of Mix View from our December 2014 report. In fact, there was even a Nokia SDK for developers that let them design and test such implementations for Windows Phone. However, the SDK and project were presumably scrapped with Nokia's McLaren.
It is not clear as to the fate of Mix View and Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system. Now that the company evidently has the patent on the design, it does ensure it will not be copied. However, unique user interfaces and real-world applications are still tough things to reconcile, as the Kinect has proven.
Currently, there is no evidence that Microsoft is bringing Mix View to Windows 10, but we'll be looking out for clues.