Today comes news of a new Apple patent that could cause problems for most of the Android devices floating around out there. The patent in question is US patent 8,223,134, and it covers disappearing vertical scroll bars on touchscreen devices in a pretty broad fashion. With the patent covering things like portable devices with a touchscreen display, vertical scroll bars that disappear after a short time, and moving the vertical bar through touch, it's pretty easy to see why this have could have a negative outcome for Android and manufacturers working with Google's Mobile OS in general.
The Verge is quick to point out that Android has been using a disappearing vertical scroll bar since at least version 2.3, so the vanishing scroll bar has been one of Android's embedded features for quite some time. Apple, obviously, likes to hoard patents relating to touchscreens and smartphones in general, so Google could soon have to pay Apple a fee if it would like to keep using those sleek looking scroll bars in present and future Android versions.
From our iPhone 4S review - see if you can spot the scroll bar in play in iOS 5:
Google does have another option, however: using a full-length, non-disappearing vertical scroll bar. Apple's freshly-award patent doesn't cover the conventional ever-present scroll bars we're used to seeing on our desktops and laptops, so Google would be able to get away with using those despite Apple's patents. Will it though? That remains to be seen, as it's hard to tell if Google will be willing to sacrifice the unobtrusive scroll bars in order to save a bit of money.