Mix: Apple patent, book list, Busch Gardens, Sulcer

A newly-published Apple patent application suggests the company is working on ways to allow iPhone users to control certain functions of the device, including voicemail playback and document navigation, using the built-in camera (pictured). As an example, the patent mentions allowing the user to forward or rewind voicemail playback by swiping his/her finger in a certain direction over the camera lens, eliminating the need to bring the phone away from the user’s face. Alternately, the user might be able to tap the back of the device a certain number of times to pause or resume playback. In another example, users might swipe their fingers vertically over the camera lens in order to scroll through a web page or document, leaving the full screen visible. As with all Apple patents, this filing does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area.

A supposedly Apple-sourced list of books may shed light on launch-day titles for Apple’s upcoming iBookstore.

TUAW has published a list of books that it claims was sourced from Apple, containing fiction, non-fiction, and autobiography titles from several notable authors including Stephen King, Timothy Ferris, Ted Kennedy, and Andre Agassi. In addition, pricing is said to range form $14.99 to Free, and the list has been checked against the titles shown during the iPad launch demonstration; while some books on the list were visible during the presentation, some weren’t, and some books shown during the event are missing from this list. Notably, the list appears to include New York Times bestsellers as a separate category, and McGraw-Hill is absent from the publisher list.

The Find My iPhone feature of Apple’s MobileMe service was recently used to help track down a thief who stole two iPhones along with a purse at the Busch Gardens Africa theme park in Tampa, FL. According to the St. Petersburg Times, the items were stolen from a personal goods holding area near the boarding station of the park’s SheiKra roller coaster.

After discovering the goods missing and notifying police, a 13-year-old iPhone user remembered the Find My iPhone service, and used an officer’s laptop to lead police to the criminal, who was apprehended shortly thereafter; the stolen iPhones were recovered.

Following his purchase of the 10 billionth song from the iTunes Store on Wednesday, 71-year-old Louie Sulcer of Woodstock, GA received a congratulatory call from Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “Hello, Lou. This is Steve Jobs,” Sulcer heard, replying, “Sure it is. Aw, who is this really? C’mon.” In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sulcer said Jobs congratulated him, thanked him for using Apple products, and talked for a few minutes. “He was real nice,” Sulcer said.