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Apple Patent Application Details Touch-Sensitive Unmounting of External Devices From Computers

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In a patent application filed in January 2008 and published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple describes its work on computer peripheral devices that are capable of initiating shut down of communications with the host computer to prepare for removal by sensing a touch or impending touch from the user. As an example, Apple points to the need for USB flash drives to be unmounted from the operating system prior to disconnection.
Before the user can remove the device, the user has to tell the host system that the device is about to be disconnected, so that an operating system of the host system can perform dismount operations (e.g., finish read/write transactions, close files) to prevent data loss when the device is disconnected from the host system. Some popular operating systems (e.g., Mac OS®, Windows®) require the user to "drag n drop" the icon onto a "trash" icon or perform some other sequence of steps to warn the operating system that the device is about to be disconnected. This conventional dismount procedure allows the operating system to perform dismount operations before the device is disconnected from the host system.

A common problem with conventional dismount procedures is that users often forget to follow the dismount procedures. For users who remember to use the proper dismount procedures, there is often a long wait while the operating system performs dismount operations. This wait can be several seconds long which can be frustrating to many users.
In the description of the invention, Apple covers a broad array of sensing techniques that could be used to allow a device such as a USB flash drive to sense the user's touch as he or she begins to remove the device. Further, Apple suggests the possibility of using a capacitive-sensing system to sense the approach of the user's hand in order to begin the unmounting process even earlier.
Summary: A portable device configured for engaging to a host system can be operable to generate a signal when the device is touched by a user or when the portable device detects an impending touch by the user. Responsive to the signal, the host system automatically initiates one or more operations related to disengaging the portable device from the host system. In some aspects, the portable device can be electrically, optically, electromechanically and/or mechanically engaged and/or disengaged to a host system.

These features allow a user to disconnect the portable device from the host system more quickly, and also prevents data corruption due to failure of the user to follow proper procedures.
The invention is credited to Brett Alten, currently Apple's Director of Patent Development.

Article Link: Apple Patent Application Details Touch-Sensitive Unmounting of External Devices From Computers
 

angelwatt

Moderator emeritus
Aug 16, 2005
7,852
7
USA
I hope it wouldn't auto-dismount without user interaction. I've often touched the flash drive with wanting to remove it, such as when making sure it was connected snuggly. Also, I'm a lefty and use a MacBook so my hand is always pretty close to the flash drive. If it just prepares for dismount that would be fine.
 

benflick

macrumors 68020
Jul 11, 2008
2,148
0
Cincinnati, Ohio
This to me sounds unneeded. While I do agree it would be a cool feature, for the price you may pay for a capable flash drive, the old way is fine.
 

AidenShaw

macrumors P6
Feb 8, 2003
18,663
4,658
The Peninsula
Sounds like data corruption just waiting to happen - unless there's a "code" or a "rhythm" to the touchs for it to be recognized as a dismount command.

"Shave and a haircut - dismount"​

 

Courtaj

macrumors 6502a
Jul 3, 2008
701
0
Edinburgh, U.K.
That looks like a good feature. The only problem being that Apple don't make flash drives. Wonder what they will use it on.
They'll use it on manufacturers who want to buy a license to build such a device. Crafty Apple.
I've often touched the flash drive with wanting to remove it, such as when making sure it was connected snuggly.
Nothing like a good, snug fit. Snuggly Apple.
 

abprime

macrumors newbie
Apr 27, 2009
4
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Dublin, OH
Personally, I think this is wholly and totally unnecessary. I can't ever see myself paying extra for a feature like this. Everything in the patent refers to user error, essentially. If you're too stupid to unmount the disk before disconnecting it, then you deserve to have your data corrupted so that you learn from your mistake. AND... even when I've been unable to umount a flash drive (b/c it's tied up by some unknown program/process/application), and I've had to resort to removing it without unmounting, I've never suffered any data corruption anyway... Maybe I'm just lucky.
 

killerrobot

macrumors 68020
Jun 7, 2007
2,239
3
127.0.0.1
I don't see how the touch is going to stop files and dismount everything immediately.

Seems like a cool idea, but I'm sure I can pull the drive out before it even senses my touch or the encroachment of my hand.
(Yes, you may call me Mr. Very Fast Hands);)
 

notjustjay

macrumors 603
Sep 19, 2003
6,054
161
Canada, eh?
Can I be honest? I rarely "disconnect" or "dismount" or "safely remove device" from Windows. I always just unplug it. And it works.

On the Mac, if I try that, it gets mad, so I make sure to eject/dismount first.

I know, data corruption, yada yada, but I've never experienced any problems as long as I'm not pulling the drive when there's something actively happening (like a file copy).

A modern OS should really be able to cope with pulling a drive out when it's not being used.
 

MrCrowbar

macrumors 68020
Jan 12, 2006
2,041
208
I don't mind ejecting volumes manually if only OSX would let me do it. Usually it's used by some applications and therefore cannot be unmounted. Even after quitting all applications (even restarting Finder), it still doesn't want to unmount. I wish I would get a window telling me which applications(processes are preventing unmounting and a button to quit them all.
 

Small White Car

macrumors G4
Aug 29, 2006
10,925
1,235
Washington DC
I NEVER un-mount flash drives. Not worth the time or the trouble.

Hard drives? Of course. But a flash drive? Never.

I suspect I'm more 'normal' than the rest of you here.
 

JayMan8081

macrumors regular
Feb 20, 2007
115
0
Dayton, OH
It's an interesting idea but I also wonder about the practicality of it. Plus flash drives are so darn cheap right now and I wonder how much this would add to the cost.
 

Arcus

macrumors 6502a
Dec 28, 2004
704
303
of my hand will get me slapped.
Some popular operating systems (e.g., Mac OS®, Windows®) require the user to "drag n drop" the icon onto a "trash" icon or perform some other sequence of steps to warn the operating system that the device is about to be disconnected


That is not correct. Windows does not require you to do this.
 

Baron58

macrumors 6502
Feb 19, 2004
451
2
LOL...

I wanna say.. why don't they just adopt the Microsoft way of doing it.. :p

This is a very interesting way to solve a problem that shouldn't exist.



Exactly! All they need to do is implement SYNCHRONOUS DATA WRITES. Windows writes the data to the drive immediately, so you can pull & go. The system realises "oh, the device is removed", so instead of throwing an error it cleans up the mount point.

OS X uses asynchronous writes... When you 'save' a file it isn't *really* 'saved' (written to disk) just then... it's cached in memory and written when convenient. Unmounting the disk forces a sync() to make sure the data is written to disk before it is pulled out.

Apple, just implement synchronous writes already and stop with the technological second-guessing. It's bad enough that the iPhone can't be locked to portrait or landscape, and may switch orientation when IT thinks you want to, rather than what you really want it to do. This touch-sensitive unmounting crap is unnecessary.
 

Tastic Bycrom

macrumors regular
Jul 15, 2008
113
0
Kansas City, MO
Congratulations. You've patented the eject button....
Really, wouldn't it make more sense to have media needing an eject to just auto-eject when not in actual use and re-establish communication when triggered to (yeah, that's a slightly more windows-esqe approach)
I dunno - hide LEDs near the USB ports that light up when removal isn't safe...
 

Baron58

macrumors 6502
Feb 19, 2004
451
2
That is not correct. Windows does not require you to do this.

Win2k, WinNT and Win98 with USB support *did* require you to click on the green arrow in the systray and 'stop' the device. No different than clicking on the icon and ejecting it in OS X (2 steps). WinXP introduced the 'hot unplug' capability.
 

globalhemp

macrumors regular
Jan 2, 2006
118
5
United States
In the age of Floppy Discs...

In over 15 years of using Macs, the unmount disc issue has always been an odd-ball. While the patent states Windows OS may have same issue, it does not.

So, its good to see that Apple is finally going to allow users the ability to unmount a disc without dragging-and-dropping disc into trash can. For most users its only logical that you would not want to "trash" (delete) your files. That is what any non-Mac user would assume you are doing be dragging disc to trash. Of course, you can use menu bar to unmount / eject disc, and Mac OS X now has keyboard for unmounting, ... trash can turns into Eject button when doing so, etc. Anyhow, its all about time that the weirdness ends.
 
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