Microsoft has filed a continuation patent application illustrating a mobile phone with a user interface similar to that of the Apple iPhone.

The patent application, called 'Extensible, filtered lists for mobile device user interface', outlines how Microsoft plans to design an improved user interface for mobile devices, Dialaphone says.

The patent, filed back in July, discusses how mobile phones are so feature-packed they have become very complicated to use. It's a problem that is "exacerbated by the generally limited user interfaces" on modern mobile phones, according to the document.

New interface

Microsoft's new interface would provide access to data, software applications and other services. "Each group or list can include multiple items, which can be associated with data or tasks from multiple applications," the patent filing reads.

"The set of groups of items can be both customisable and extensible to allow users to locate and utilise data and tasks relevant to the particular user. The set of item groups can provide users with a filtered view of content available through the mobile device, enhancing access to subset of data and tasks available on the mobile device."

Make navigation easier

The idea is to make navigation on mobile devices easier, blurring the view of an item to show that the input has been received. Items and shortcuts would be displayed as a vertical list or grid, and have colour codes and arrows next to them to support scrolling.

The patent lists smartphones and PDAs as the main candidates for the improved menu system. An example shows how you could store frequently used contacts in a list that provides access to information for those contacts while maintaining access through the contacts application itself.

This might mean that Microsoft is planning to release a Zune mobile phone to rival the Apple iPhone, or an entirely new version of its popular Windows Mobile operating system.