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Tuesday, Jul 31, 2012 12:44pm
Apple wins photography, predictive text patents
Apple has won several new patents from the US Patent and Trademark Office. Two of these are specifically related to digital photography; the first, Dynamic exposure metering based on face detection, describes a system through which a device can adjust automatically to best expose the faces in a scene. The other, Auto focus speed enhancement using object recognition and resolution, also revolves mainly around faces, using known face sizes to more quickly determine the right focus settings.

Both of the photography patents appear to document technology already in iOS 5 and the latest iPhones and iPads. For Apple, though, the patents may be useful as a legal weapon against rival phone and tablet makers.

Separately, a patent titledMethod, device, and graphical user interface providing word recommendations for text input is designed to make it easier to type using a touchscreen. As a person taps out each of the letters in a word, Apple's system attempts to predict what the word will be with increasing precision. This in turn allows software to increase touch-sensitive areas around the right keys, ensuring that even sloppy typing still hits the right letters.

Notably, one of the people credited with the predictive text patent is Apple's senior VP for iOS software, Scott Forstall. It's difficult to judge whether Apple will or has already implemented the technology, since part of the point of the patent is to make typing easier without increasing the visible size of the keyboard.