A new patent awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reveals that Apple is experimenting with multitouch swipe gestures for iOS keyboard, and may introduce specialized gestures for the virtual keyboard in a future iOS update, AppleInsider is reporting. The patent titled “Swipe gestures for touch screen keyboards” also suggests that Apple has been experimenting with the technology since 2007.
While the newly awarded Apple patent covers single-finger and multi-finger actions, functionality is limited to swiping gestures alone. Apple details a number of functions that can be made available to the user, such as a swipe can invoke functions like spacing, erasing, punctuation, or any other actions common to text entry. Additionally, multi-finger input may delete a word or even an entire line.
Illustrating the invention’s utility, the above picture shows a user attempting to enter “ok” in response to a message. While “o” was entered correctly, the user tapped “j” instead of the adjacent “k” button. With the current iOS keyboard, the “j” must be erased with the Delete key if “oj” is not autocorrected to “ok.” Apple notes a simple one-finger swipe to the left could stand as a replacement for this action.
Graphical assets associated with certain functions, like backspace, can be displayed to remind users of the direction in which to swipe to activate a certain key. For example, top hats with arrows facing in the direction of the swipe can be overlaid on the keyboard’s GUI when a gesture is invoked.
The document further notes that two-finger swipes up can be translated to Caps Lock, while a three-finger gesture may bring up special accented characters or an international keyboard. Other gestures include up swipe to initiate the Shift function, down for a carriage return and right to insert a character space.
Apple’s swipe gestures for keyboard patent was first filed for in 2007.