Microsoft Excel 2000 did this. Source:
The Excel short menus show the most popular commands. You can always get to the rest of the commands by clicking the chevron at the bottom of a menu to display the full menu. As you continue to use Excel, frequently used commands move to the short menus and unused commands move to the full menus.
"Displaying a ...
Also look at this research article: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF00126652 ("Design and evaluation of an adaptive icon toolbar" published in 1996). In the abstract we see:
This paper describes the decision-making algorithm implemented in the bar. It also describes the bar's self-adaptive behavior of displaying the frequency of each icon's ...
Tag cloud was my first thought too, although the typical tag cloud isn't based on the number of times click on an item in the cloud, rather the number of times the keyword appears somewhere (in the article, website, etc.)
Although, I did find this implementation of a tag cloud (http://www.solspace.com/docs/tag/cloud/) that does provide that functionality:
Wikipedia contains a page on Tag Cloud:
from June 7, 2005.
From the Patent Application:
Modifying the APPEARANCE OF AN ICON based on its FREQUENCY OF USE
From the Wikipedia article:
the more commonly used tags are displayed with a larger font or stronger emphasis
this implies ...
I have been writing systems that do this since around 1999. Various papers describing these, e.g.:
Dron, J., Boyne, C., & Mitchell, R. (2001). Footpaths in the Stuff Swamp. Paper presented at the WebNet 2001, Orlando, Florida.
Describes how topic tags grow and shrink according to number of clicks. But these were words, not icons.
Dron, J. (2005). ...
A list of recently used applications is probably enough to invalidate this patent application.
It essentially displays the frequency of use of an application.
If it's unfrequently used, it will fall out of the list. If it's frequently used it will be included. Exclusion/inclusion in the list is the same as changing appearence as visible/invisible is a change ...
Not just Excel, Word as well, probably the whole office suite. Just replace 'icon' with 'menu item', and it describes the behaviour of the menus in Office since version 2000.
Now how is an icon different from a menu item? Both are areas on the screen that can be selected to activate a function. With Office 2007 the menus were rearranged and transformed into ...
Crazyegg does exactly this. It (1) stores frequency of use of icons on a webpage and (2) changes their appearance to reflect it, with a frequency of use heatmap.
Heatma.ps also does this but for Android apps instead of webpages.
There was an idea just for that to be implemented in Ubuntu. It was written down in 2010. The original web site doesn't work, but there is a Google Cached version: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:iRTDbzbkXWoJ:brainstorm.ubuntu.com/idea/25263/+
Apple's dock icons could be said to be already using this technology, which would constitute prior art.
Depending on activity, dock icons can be "badged" with a number. This badging changes the appearance. The number might indicate pending activities (such as incoming email), or other things. The important part is "other things", because what the number ...
Published at least as early as March 1, 1996: "This paper...describes the bar's self-adaptive behavior of displaying the frequency of each icon's use through the icon's size."
Debevc, M., Meyer, B., Donlagic, D., & Svecko, R. (1996). Design and evaluation of an adaptive icon toolbar. User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction, 6, 1-21
This patent refers to an implementation of a "visually weighted list". The most common implementation of a visually weighted list is a "tag cloud".
Human-Computer Interaction - INTERACT 2009: 12th IFIP TC 13 International Conference, Uppsala, Sweden, August 24-28, 2009, discussed the concept, in reference to a tag cloud implementation of such a list in ...
Here's an interesting paper from 2010: Speeding pointing in tiled widgets
It's a study on how to do dynamic resizing in response to cursor movements, but the "Future Work" section has this:
We are in the process of exploring variants of expansion
strategies to determine promising approaches to endpoint fa-
cilitation with expanding targets. While the ...
Apple has some patents in that way. The writing scheme has a generalist approach that can overlap the current patent application.
A computer user interface is provided which allows a user to adjust
the size of icons based upon a user's preference or based upon a
characteristic of the objects that the icons represent. When the icon
sizing is ...
Many forum softwares use this kind of concept. It changes default thread icon to "hot thread" icon when there is larger thread activity.
Just take a look at the footer here : http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/32/beginners-questions/. Thread icons change color to red for "hot threads".
I could swear I've played games where you can only buy, say, 10 of the same item, after you've bought 10 the icon becomes greyed out. Can't think of a specific game though, but isn't that "changing appearance of icon based on frequency of usage"?
More generally, this goes under the name "adaptive user interfaces", i.e., user interfaces that adapt automatically to the user as opposed to "adaptable user interfaces". One example from 2004 (1):
As it learns more about the user’s behavior, SUPPLE adapts the contents of the dynamic sections of each window. The dynamic content may include duplication of ...