When a judge found HTC guilty of infringing two Apple patents last year, HTC said it would modify its phones to get around the infringement. Now we’re seeing exactly how that will affect users.
The patents deal with how the iPhone gives you a list of possible commands when you tap on a phone number, e-mail, physical address or other data structure. For instance, if you tap on a phone number in a document, the iPhone lets you call the number, send a text message, add the number to your contacts or copy the digits to the clipboard. HTC’s Android phones have similar functionality, which was grounds for infringement, the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled.
According to The Verge, the U.S. versions of HTC’s latest phones no longer have the so-called “data tapping” functionality (pictured to the left on a Samsung phone). Instead, when you tap on certain types of data, the phone immediately performs an action. So if you tap on a phone number, the phone will jump right to the dialer. A separate options menu lets users choose what happens by default when they tap on certain types of data.
Some users might actually prefer this change–if you tap an e-mail address, for instance, there’s a good chance you intend to write to that address–but the immediate action could be a nuisance for accidental tapping. And because alternate actions are buried in a separate menu, users may not bother with them. As I’ve written before, HTC phones are a little bit worse as a result of Apple’s patent win–at least in the United States.
The HTC One X and Evo 4G LTE are currently held up at U.S. Customs while the agency examines the phones for patent infringements, The Verge reported earlier this week. Hopefully HTC’s tweaks will be sufficient enough to get those phones into consumers’ hands soon.