On November 14, 2013 the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals everything you want to know about the iPad's split keyboard. The invention places a lot of emphasis on a "candidate bar" next to the left side of the virtual keyboard as noted above. As a character input is received via the keyboard, the iPad may update the candidate bar to include various candidate characters that correspond to the received character input. The candidate characters may be individual letters or they may be words, phrases, numbers, or the like.
The iPad Keyboard's "Candidate Bar" Feature
Apple begins covering the candidate bar in patent figure FIG. 4 noted in our cover graphic. In the noted example we see an illustrated user interface that includes character input and one or more candidates. In particular, a user may have entered character input 405 by typing on split keyboard and the character input may correspond to a linguistic expression (e.g., a word, a phrase, a string of characters, etc.) that has two or more interpretations. For example, the character input may be a linguistic expression entered in a first alphabet that has two or more corresponding spellings in a second alphabet different from the first alphabet.
For instance, in the example illustrated in FIG. 4, the character input 405 may be the linguistic expression "ni hao," which is a phonetic spelling of a Chinese phrase for "hello," entered in a Latin alphabet. However, there may be multiple Chinese characters that sound like or otherwise phonetically correspond to the linguistic expression "ni hao" and thus may be considered to match or otherwise correspond to the linguistic expression received as the character input 405.
Accordingly, the user interface may include a vertical candidate bar 415 which may display one or more character candidates (e.g., candidates 420, 425, 430, and 435) determined based upon the character input 405.
In some embodiments, a vertical candidate bar (e.g., vertical candidate bar 415) may be scrollable, such that the candidate bar may include (or the user interface may otherwise provide) an indication that additional candidates are available and/or may enable the additional candidates to be accessed and selected. For example, in instances where more candidates are available than can fit in candidate bar 415, a user can perform a scroll command on the candidate bar 415 (e.g., by performing a swipe or slide gesture on a region of the display screen in which candidate bar 415 is displayed), in order to view additional candidate characters that are included therein and/or that might otherwise correspond to character input 405.
Additionally or alternatively, the vertical candidate bar may include a control, such as a selectable button, that when selected or otherwise activated may cause the candidate bar to be expanded. For example, the candidate bar may be expanded by displaying an animation in which the candidate bar grows to occupy additional screen space and/or portions of the user interface. This may allow additional candidates to be displayed to and/or be selected by the user, while reducing (and possibly eliminating) the extent to which a user might have to scroll through a list of candidate characters.
Apple credits Morgan Winer as the sole inventor of patent application 20130300664 which was originally filed in Q2 2012. To review the full details of this invention, see Apple's invention.
Side Note: I don't know if it's an anomaly, a temporary hiccup or just a lack of inspiration – but the lack of new invention ideas coming out of Apple are now at a snail's pace compared to those that surfaced during the 2006-2011 time frame. Time will tell if this is just a blip in time or a trend for "new Apple" without the late Steve Jobs.
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