Last week Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple invents a Twist to the iPad Pro Smart Keyboard by replacing it with a Secondary Display & Virtual Keyboard." Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that expands on a possible smarter version of the iPad Pro Smart Keyboard or an alternative smart keyboard that's based on a virtual keyboard that could offer users more flexibility and features like being able to swipe a finger anywhere on the virtual keyboard and it understand that you're gesturing and create a temporary trackpad area as noted in our cover graphic and below in FIG. 20.
To create a more realistic virtual keyboard Apple's focus is on delivering a unique 'Force Feedback' system for a future virtual keyboard that's based on a new magnets system. The new force feedback system would provide users with a realistic "clicking" sensation when hitting keys to mimic a physical keyboard feel.
While the bulk of the patent application is focused on the magnets system, the filing also shows us a few advantages of the new virtual keyboard. There's the virtual trackpad noted in patent FIG. 20 and in FIG. 19 we're shown that the keys on a virtual keyboard could adjust to a user typing in the passenger seat in a car, or on a bus, train, plane or other vehicle where sudden movement could slightly throw off a user's hands. In such instances the keyboard would adjust the keyboard horizontally to compensate for the movement in the vehicle so that your typing isn't turned into gibberish output.
Apple's patent application 20170076885 was filed back in Q3 2016. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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