Apple has been given a new patent covering their magnification tool in iOS – when you hold on the cursor on some text a magnification glass will come up, allowing you to select a certain part of the text. It can also appear when selecting other, non-textual elements.
The patent is called "Device, method and graphical user interface for management and manipulation of user interface elements." It doesn’t cover the entire magnification tool though, just how it pops up when an object is below a certain size. As long as a rival finds a different way to do magnification (such as pressing a button) then they’ll be safe from patent violation.
As patents start to cover more features of smartphones we see innovation but it can also hinder the end smartphones. For instance, the magnification tool is very handy and is implemented in other mobile devices like Android and Windows Phone – if that has to change to satisfy the patent, customers lose out. It can also lead to expensive lawsuits between technology companies that then means they have to increase their prices to cover the penalties, for instance Samsung’s $1 billion fine will probably mean their prices will be ~$10 higher/smartphone than they would have otherwise been.