Apple’s iOS 7 operating system and its slightly updated keyboard may have just began going out to iPhones and iPads last week, but if recent patents are accurate Apple could have even more dramatic updates to the keyboard in store for future versions of iOS.
According to illustrations and patent applications sent to the United States Patent and Trademark Office and obtained by AppleInsider, Apple is attempting to lay claim to a revamped version of the iOS keyboard that would allow users to make gestures in place of simply tapping on-screen characters. As illustrated, users would be able to use both single-finger and multi-finger gestures to add spacing, punctuation and delete characters from the iOS keyboard.
Swiping with two fingers could activate Caps Lock while swiping with three fingers could allow the user to add punctuation and spaces. A downward swipe could also trigger a keyboard with a collection of commonly used punctuation marks.
As described in the patent, the idea isn’t that far-flung from the gesture based keyboard that users can install on Android devices, specifically Swype. However, adding a feature like this would be huge for iPhone and iPad users. In addition to only releasing mild updates to the iOS keyboard, Apple doesn’t allow users to add keyboards at all.
Unfortunately, whether users will ever actually see the feature implemented is up in the air. Apple applied for the patent six years ago, and to date, there have been no hints in any iOS beta that such a keyboard is on the way. Apple also has a long history of applying for, and being granted, software and hardware solutions that never make it into their devices or software.
Still, for those users who have grown tired of the old-style iOS keyboard, iOS 7 does at least give the keyboard a new coat of paint to help it blend in with the rest of the operating system. iOS 7 is available for download for any iPhone user with an iPhone 4 or later.