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Apple Acquires Patent for Predictive Text Input UI

Source: MacBook Pro, iPad and iPhone | Apple

Yesterday, Apple was granted a U.S. patent for graphical user interface used on iOS. The iOS patent details how a device could change the “hit region” size of a virtual keyboard’s button based on predictive text data.

The company’s US Patent No. 8,232,973 is believed to be a solution for users who are having a problem entering text on mobile device’s small screen. As stated on the patent’s abstract:

A portable electronic device having a touch screen display performs a set of operations, including displaying a plurality of key icons, each having an adjustable size hit region, and receiving a sequence of individual touch points input by a user on the touch screen display. The operations performed by the device further include processing the received individual touch points by: forming a user-input directed graph for the sequence of individual touch points received so far, determining a character corresponding to a last received individual touch point in accordance with the adjustable hit regions of the displayed key icons, displaying a sequence of characters corresponding to the sequence of individual touch points, and updating sizes of the adjustable hit regions for a plurality of the key icons in accordance with the sequence of individual touch points input by the user.

How Apple’s New Patent Feature Works

Also labeled as “Method, device and graphical user interface providing word recommendations for text input,” Apple’s newly approved patent enlarges the effective area of the virtual keyboard’s buttons based on predictive input system without resizing the visual keyboard asset.

For instance, when a user will enter the word “Apple,” he or she would be hitting the A-P-P-L-E buttons. With the company’s new patent, the system will begin to narrow down what the user is trying to spell. It will then increase the size of the next expected button. However, this feature will not visually enlarge the virtual keyboard’s buttons. It will just increase the “hit region” of the expected key, which will be completely invisible to the user.

Working in line with the enlarged images visible on top of iOS keyboards, this new predictive technology system will provide a smooth and user-friendly solution for typing on small devices. According to the patent application:

With a size-restricted keyboard, designers are often forced to make the keys smaller or overload the keys. Both may lead to typing mistakes and thus more backtracking to correct the mistakes. This makes the process of communication by text on the devices inefficient and reduces user satisfaction with such portable communication devices.

Apple notes that the new patent is an attempt for a more efficient method of entering texts into small mobile devices.

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