Apple explores swipe gestures for iOS device keyboards

A new patent shows that Apple is toying with the idea of touch-screen gestures to replicate certain keys, such as return, backspace, and caps lock.

Swipe gestures would replicate certain keyboard functions, as envisioned in an Apple patent.
Swipe gestures would replicate certain keyboard functions, as envisioned in an Apple patent. Apple/USPTO

iPhone and iPad users may one day be able to add swipe gestures to their keyboard repertoire.

A patent awarded to Apple by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday reveals that Apple has been looking into the use of swipe gestures as an alternative to various keyboard functions. Dubbed "Swipe gestures for touch-screen keyboards," the patent describes how swiping could be more effective than tapping on the virtual keyboard.

The technology envisioned in the patent wouldn't let you use swipes to type actual characters. Instead, a swipe would invoke specific keys, such as space, backspace, shift, and return. Such actions could be performed with a single swipe. More possibilities would open up through multi-finger swipes.

A two-finger swipe might turn on the caps lock key, delete the current word, or add a period and a space to end a sentence. A three-finger swipe could bring up an alternative keyboard for adding punctuation or numbers.

As always, even an awarded patent doesn't necessarily mean the technology will see the light of day. But it's good to see Apple looking into a feature currently enjoyed by Android users.

(Via AppleInsider)

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.


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