An intuitive menu system can greatly enhance the usability - and perhaps even enjoyment - of a device, and many companies have offered various solutions that they've hoped would set themselves apart from the crowd. With a newly-granted patent, it looks like Google is soon to try to convince us that its latest idea is worth getting excited about: A radial menu.
Radial menus are not new, but Google's implementation is quite a bit different than what I've ever seen before. In all cases, according to the patent, a user's thumb would act as an anchor in the middle of the radial menu, at which point they can use their index finger to either slide along it, tap an option, or even tap outside the menu to enable a sub-menu.
For the most part, I'm fine with the current menu and context options in Android, but the idea behind a radial menu intrigues me. Instead of having to move your finder to the top of the screen to hit "Cut", for example, you'd simply be able to slide it along this context menu - an action that's likely to be much quicker.
One thing that's clear about Google's implementation here is that it's not going to be useful when holding a device with one hand - unless you like distorting your hand in clearly unhealthy ways. Instead, if used on a phone, you'd need to hold it with one hand, and then use the menu with the other. In this regard, some cases might favor classic solutions.
At this point, all we can do is wait to see how Google is going to implement such a menu into Android, and see if there are other ways to manipulate the menu that's not immediately obvious here. Count me as someone who's interested in seeing where this goes.