updated 12:30 pm EST, Fri December 26, 2008
New Apple kybd. commands?
Apple may be looking to implement swipe gestures into the iPhone and iPod touch's virtual keyboard, a newly-published patent application hints. Submitted to the the US Patent and Trademark Office, the patent -- simply titled Swipe Gestures for Touch Screen Keyboards -- describes a means of substituting swipes for commands that would normally require extra tapping. Users of handhelds could, for instance, swipe left with two fingers to backspace, or swipe down to enter a new line.
More complex commands might involve swiping up once to switch to upper-case letters, and twice to enter caps lock. Upward swipes might alternately be used to enter punctuation, and swipes in various directions could be used to handle tasks such as spacing, deleting whole words, or simultaneously inserting both a period and a space at the end of a sentence.
Apple further notes that the patent could apply not just to the iPhone and Touch, but PDAs, tablets, notebooks and desktop systems. Only Apple's handhelds, however, currently rely on virtual keyboards. The patent concept is attributed in part to Wayne Westerman, one of the inventors of the multi-touch technology bought out by Apple.