News Column

Patent Issued for Mobile Device and Application Switching Method

August 5, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Information Technology Newsweekly -- According to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews journalists, a patent by the inventors Tobe, Akiko (Yokosuka, JP); Tsuchiya, Nirou (Yokohama, JP); Tsuda, Masayuki (Tokyo, JP), filed on October 28, 2009, was published online on July 22, 2014.

The assignee for this patent, patent number 8789064, is NTT DoCoMo, Inc. (Tokyo, JP).

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "It has recently been possible for small mobile information terminals such as cellular phones to download and execute applications. Examples of their execution environments include those executing only one application at a time and those starting and executing a plurality of applications as many as memories permit at the same time.

"From the viewpoint of contents providers who provide services, however, phenomena such as drop in speed by half, shortage of memory, and occurrence of errors due to the lack of necessary hardware resources are more likely to occur in an environment in which a plurality of applications are executed at the same time than in the case where a single application is executed alone, since a single CPU or memory resource is shared by a plurality of applications against intentions of users and contents creators in the former.

"Thus, in application platforms for providing services of contents providers, services cannot be provided stably when applications are executed in a multiplex manner. Therefore, in many cases, a single-execution environment in which only one application is run at a time has been employed or, even in a multiplex-execution state in which a plurality of applications can be started at the same time, only one application is executed while the other applications are stopped, so as to stabilize services.

"Some cellular phone terminals (e.g., smartphones) which enable the multiplex-execution state, on the other hand, have been hard to provide with services in stable speed/operation environment, required their end users themselves to terminate applications which heavily consume CPU resources, and so forth, and thus are usable only by users with high literacy.

"As a technique for executing a plurality of applications while efficiently switching among them on a limited resource, one disclosed in Patent Literature 1 has been proposed."

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "Technical Problem

"However, the technique disclosed in Patent Literature 1 does not take account of the execution state and execution environment of applications mentioned above and thus fails to overcome the problem mentioned above.

"It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a mobile device and application switching method which can appropriately switch executions of applications from one to another when a plurality of applications use a limited resource.

"Solution to Problem

"A mobile device in accordance with the present invention is a mobile device for executing a plurality of applications, the mobile device comprising execution state shift means for shifting an execution state between a multiplex-execution state for executing a plurality of applications and a single-execution state for executing a single application in a multi-application execution environment adapted to execute a plurality of applications; execution state shift request receiving means for receiving a request for shifting the execution state from the multiplex-execution state to the single-execution state when a plurality of applications are being executed in the multiplex-execution state in the multi-application execution environment; application stop means for stopping, when the execution state shift request is received by the execution state shift request receiving means, an application other than the application to be executed in the single-execution state in the applications being executed in the multiplex-execution state; first resource release means for releasing a resource used by the applications being executed in the multiplex-execution state in response to the execution state shift request received by the execution state shift request receiving means; and first resource allocation means for allocating the resource released by the first resource release means to the application to be executed in the single-execution state.

"An application switching method in accordance with the present invention is an application switching method for executing a plurality of applications, the method comprising an execution state shift step of shifting an execution state between a multiplex-execution state for executing a plurality of applications and a single-execution state for executing a single application in a multi-application execution environment adapted to execute a plurality of applications; an execution state shift request receiving step of receiving a request for shifting the execution state from the multiplex-execution state to the single-execution state when a plurality of applications are being executed in the multiplex-execution state in the multi-application execution environment; an application stop step of stopping, in response to the execution state shift request received in the execution state shift request receiving step, an application other than the application to be executed in the single-execution state in the applications being executed in the multiplex-execution state; a first resource release step of releasing a resource used by the applications being executed in the multiplex-execution state in response to the execution state shift request received in the execution state shift request receiving step; and a first resource allocation step of allocating the resource released in the first resource release step to the application to be executed in the single-execution state.

"In the above-mentioned mobile device and application switching method in accordance with the present invention, in response to a request for shifting the execution state from the multiplex-execution state to the single-execution state, a resource used by the applications being executed in the multiplex-execution state is released, while an application other than the application to be executed in the single-execution state is stopped. Thereafter, the released resource is allocated to the application to be executed in the single-execution state, whereby the application to be executed in the single-execution state can use the resource without being restricted by the other applications. Thus, when a plurality of applications use a limited resource, the execution state can be shifted from the multiplex-execution state to the single-execution state even if the user does not carry out any operation for allocating the resource, whereby executions of applications can appropriately be switched from one to another.

"Preferably, in this case, the first resource release means releases only the resource used by an application other than the application to be executed in the single-execution state in the plurality of applications being executed in the multiplex-execution state. In this mobile device, when shifting the execution state, only the resource used by an application other than the application to be executed in the single-execution state is released, while the resource being used by the application to be executed in the single-execution state is not released. This allows the application to be executed in the single-execution state to keep securing the resource even when the execution state shifts, whereby interrupts in the processing can be minimized.

"A mobile device in accordance with the present invention is a mobile device for executing a plurality of applications, the mobile device comprising execution environment shift means for shifting an execution environment between a multi-application execution environment adapted to execute a plurality of applications and a single-application execution environment adapted to execute a single application alone; application termination means for terminating all the applications being executed in the multi-application execution environment in response to a request for shifting the execution environment; second resource release means for releasing a resource used by the applications being executed in the multi-application execution environment in response to a request for shifting the execution environment from the multi-application execution environment to the single-application execution environment; second resource allocation means for allocating the resource released by the second resource release means to the application to be executed in the single-application execution environment; and single-application execution means for executing the application to be executed in the single-application execution environment after the execution environment is shifted to the single-application execution environment by the execution environment shift means.

"An application switching method in accordance with the present invention is an application switching method for executing a plurality of applications, the method comprising an execution environment shift step of shifting an execution environment between a multi-application execution environment adapted to execute a plurality of applications and a single-application execution environment adapted to execute a single application alone; an application termination step of terminating all the applications being executed in the multi-application execution environment in response to a request for shifting the execution environment; a second resource release step of releasing a resource used by the applications being executed in the multi-application execution environment in response to a request for shifting the execution environment from the multi-application execution environment to the single-application execution environment; a second resource allocation step of allocating the resource released in the second resource release step to the application to be executed in the single-application execution environment; and a single-application execution step of executing the application to be executed in the single-application execution environment after the execution environment is shifted to the single-application execution environment in the execution environment shift step.

"In the above-mentioned mobile device and application switching method in accordance with the present invention, in response to a request for shifting the execution environment from the multi-application execution environment to the single-application execution environment in the multi-application execution environment, a resource used by the applications being executed in the multi-application execution environment is released, while all the applications being executed in the multi-application execution environment are terminated. Thereafter, the released resource is allocated to the application to be executed in the single-application execution environment, so as to execute this application. Therefore, the application to be executed in the single-application execution environment can use the resource without being restricted by the other applications. Thus, when a plurality of applications use a limited resource, the execution environment can be shifted from the multi-application execution environment to the single-application execution environment even if the user does not carry out any operation for allocating the resource, whereby executions of applications can appropriately be switched from one to another.

"Preferably, in this case, the mobile device further comprises state information storage means for storing state information of a predetermined application being executed in the multi-application execution environment before terminating the applications being executed in the multi-application execution environment when the application to be executed in the single-application execution environment is to be started in association with the predetermined application, while the single-application execution means acquires the state information stored in the state information storage means and executes the application to be executed in the single-application execution environment. When the application to be executed in the single-application execution environment is to be started in association with a predetermined application being executed in the multi-application execution environment, this mobile device stores the state information of the latter application before terminating the applications being executed in the multi-application execution environment. Thereafter, the stored state information is acquired, so as to execute the application to be executed in the single-application execution environment. Therefore, by acquiring the stored state information, the application to be executed in the single-application execution environment can be associated with the application having been executed in the multi-application execution environment. This makes it possible to start the application to be executed in the multi-application execution environment and the application to be executed in the single-application execution environment in association with each other.

"A mobile device in accordance with the present invention is a mobile device for executing a plurality of applications, the mobile device comprising execution state shift means for shifting an execution state between a multiplex-execution state for executing a plurality of applications and a single-execution state for executing a single application in a multi-application execution environment adapted to execute a plurality of applications; execution state shift request receiving means for receiving a request for shifting the execution state from the multiplex-execution state to the single-execution state when a plurality of applications are being executed in the multiplex-execution state in the multi-application execution environment; application stop means for stopping, when the execution state shift request is received by the execution state shift request receiving means, an application other than the application to be executed in the single-execution state in the applications being executed in the multiplex-execution state; first resource release means for releasing a resource used by the applications being executed in the multiplex-execution state in response to the execution state shift request received by the execution state shift request receiving means; first resource allocation means for allocating the resource released by the first resource release means to the application to be executed in the single-execution state; execution environment shift means for shifting an execution environment between the multi-application execution environment shifted to the single-execution state by the execution state shift means and a single-application execution environment adapted to execute a single application alone; application termination means for terminating all the applications being executed in the multi-application execution environment in response to a request for shifting the execution environment; second resource release means for releasing a resource used by the applications being executed in the multi-application execution environment in response to a request for shifting the execution environment from the multi-application execution environment to the single-application execution environment; second resource allocation means for allocating the resource released by the second resource release means to the application to be executed in the single-application execution environment; and single-application execution means for executing the application to be executed in the single-application execution environment after the execution environment is shifted to the single-application execution environment by the execution environment shift means.

"An application switching method in accordance with the present invention is an application switching method for executing a plurality of applications, the application switching method comprising an execution state shift step of shifting an execution state between a multiplex-execution state for executing a plurality of applications and a single-execution state for executing a single application in a multi-application execution environment adapted to execute a plurality of applications; an execution state shift request receiving step of receiving a request for shifting the execution state from the multiplex-execution state to the single-execution state when a plurality of applications are being executed in the multiplex-execution state in the multi-application execution environment; an application stop step of stopping, in response to the execution state shift request received in the execution state shift request receiving step, an application other than the application to be executed in the single-execution state in the applications being executed in the multiplex-execution state; a first resource release step of releasing a resource used by the applications being executed in the multiplex-execution state in response to the execution state shift request received in the execution state shift request receiving step; a first resource allocation step of allocating the resource released in the first resource release step to the application to be executed in the single-execution state; an execution environment shift step of shifting an execution environment between the multi-application execution environment shifted to the single-execution state in the execution state shift step and a single-application execution environment adapted to execute a single application alone; an application termination step of terminating all the applications being executed in the multi-application execution environment in response to a request for shifting the execution environment; a second resource release step of releasing a resource used by the applications being executed in the multi-application execution environment in response to a request for shifting the execution environment from the multi-application execution environment to the single-application execution environment; a second resource allocation step of allocating the resource released in the second resource release step to the application to be executed in the single-application execution environment; and a single-application execution step of executing the application to be executed in the single-application execution environment after the execution environment is shifted to the single-application execution environment in the execution environment shift step.

"In the above-mentioned mobile device and application switching method in accordance with the present invention, in response to the request for shifting the execution state from the multiplex-execution state to the single-execution state, a resource used by the applications being executed in the multiplex-execution state is released, while an application other than the application to be executed in the single-execution state is stopped. Subsequently, the released resource is allocated to the application to be executed in the single-execution state, whereby the application to be executed in the single-execution state can use the resource without being restricted by the other applications. Then, in response to the request for shifting the execution environment from the multi-application execution environment to the single-application execution environment in the multi-application execution environment shifted to the single-execution state, a resource used by the applications being executed in the multi-application execution environment is released, while all the applications being executed in the multi-application execution environment are terminated. Thereafter, the released resource is allocated to the application to be executed in the single-application execution environment, so as to execute this application. Therefore, the application to be executed in the single-application execution environment can use the resource without being restricted by the other applications. Thus, when a plurality of applications use a limited resource, the execution environment can be shifted from the multiplex-execution state to the single-execution state in the multi-application execution environment and further from the multi-application execution environment shifted to the single-execution state to the single-application execution environment even if the user does not carry out any operation for allocating the resource, whereby executions of applications accompanying the shifts of execution states and execution environments can appropriately be switched from one to another.

"Advantageous Effects of Invention

"The present invention makes it possible to switch executions of applications appropriately from one to another when a plurality of applications use a limited resource."

For more information, see this patent: Tobe, Akiko; Tsuchiya, Nirou; Tsuda, Masayuki. Mobile Device and Application Switching Method. U.S. Patent Number 8789064, filed October 28, 2009, and published online on July 22, 2014. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=8789064.PN.&OS=PN/8789064RS=PN/8789064

Keywords for this news article include: NTT DoCoMo Inc, Information Technology, Information and Data Storage.

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Source: Information Technology Newsweekly


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