Typing On The IPhone Is Frustrating. The Solution? Swipe Gestures

A new patent filing shows Apple has been thinking about keyboard gestures since 2007, when the first-generation iPhone debuted.

Typing On The IPhone Is Frustrating. The Solution? Swipe Gestures

A patent awarded to Apple on Tuesday shows the Cupertino-based company has been looking to incorporate multitouch keyboard gestures since around the time the first iPhone debuted.

The patent filed in June 2007 describes using swipes to add space, delete, hit return, and more. Using multiple fingers to swipe over the keyboard can implement additional functions. An example the filing uses is that a single-finger swipe to the left can delete a character while a two-finger swipe in the same direction can be used to delete a word. Swiping three fingers to the left, meanwhile, could be used to delete an entire line.

Similarly, a single finger rightward swipe could be used to invoke a space, while a two-finger rightward swipe could be used to invoke a period and a space, ending a sentence. Alternatively, a two-finger rightward swipe could be used to accept a word completion suggestion offered by the application. Similarly, a three-finger rightward swipe could be used to display a listing of possible word completions. (Again, the number of fingers can vary.)

The default keyboard on iPhones and iPads has proven a point of contention for developers. Even though Apple prohibits the installation of third-party keyboards for security and operating system stability, that hasn’t stopped developers from building out custom keyboards for their own apps. To help speed up the customer onboarding, mobile loyalty startup Belly created a special keyboard designed for email input, highlighting the most popular email domains in the main keyboard. The people behind Swype, a popular gesture-based alternative keyboard installed on more than 400 million Android devices, have also been working on building a smarter keyboard for iPads. The keys for the Dryft keyboard automatically shift based on the position of a person’s fingers, allowing people to type from memory with their eyes closed.

[Image: Flickr user ChodHound]

About the author

Based in San Francisco, Alice Truong is Fast Company's West Coast correspondent. She previously reported in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York and most recently Hong Kong, where she (left her heart and) worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.



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