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Apple prepping 3D operating system?

A patent has been leaked, which may well reveal the secrets behind Apple's next operating system.

Dubbed a 'multidimensional application environment', the patent, uncovered by Mac Rumours, essentially shows a 3D desktop unlike anything that has been seen on a computer before.

Unlike Windows Vista and OS X, which dabble in 3D purely from a cosmetic point of view, this 3D sketch shows off things like three-dimensional function icons that will fall if not placed correctly on the desktop – a bit like the physics model used in LittleBigPlanet.

Not Snow Leopard

Another new feature is when you open a window it will act differently depending on where you drag it. So, instead of a 2D flat image in the middle of the screen, drag it to the side of the desktop 'room' and it would change appropriately.

Using a similar stacking system as employed in OSX, documents can also be stacked behind each other in multiple rows.

The patent looks to be for a completely new operating system, so don't expect these 3D tweaks to magically appear in Snow Leopard next year, but the drawings do give an interesting insight into how Apple perceives the future of OS design.