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Thursday, February 06, 2014, 04:02 am PT (07:02 am ET)

Apple invents enhanced autocorrect tool and automated language input selection

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday published a pair of Apple patent filings, one describing a unique autocorrect system and another detailing a method in which a message's keyboard language is automatically selected based on contextual cues.

Enhanced autocorrection



Apple's "Transient panel enabling message correction capabilities prior to data submission" patent application details an interesting take on the established autocorrect feature seen in both iOS and OS X.

Autocorrect

Source: USPTO


As described, the method would afford a smartphone user the opportunity to write a message, press send, then review any autocorrected words before the message is actually transmitted. Compared to current techniques, which only allow users the chance to change autocorrected words prior to hitting send, the system gives a type of second chance if activated.

The document notes that, while the autocomplete function may assist in text entry, the tool could enter erroneous words. Additionally, the user may not notice words that have been marked as incorrect by the autocorrect system.

Apple points out the mechanism would be time-limited to not interrupt the flow of communication. To that end, an indicator would be displayed in the system's user interface to indicate the time a user has left to make a change. Shown alongside the timer are three other areas that include "Fix Errors," "Ignore" or "Reject" and "Accept" buttons.

If the appropriate button is selected, for example "Fix Errors," a so-called "transient panel" is displayed containing a number of autocorrect suggestions for incorrect words. A learning element may also be applied to suggest words a user selects often, or inhibit the display of words rarely selected.

A particularly interesting feature is message queuing. The filing states that in some cases the system can bring up multiple panels attached to multiple messages before sending them off. In this implementation, a user would type a number of messages, each of which would be sent to the back of a queue. When finished, the messages can be accepted and sent out one at a time.

The invention goes on to explain the autocorrect and suggestion utility in greater detail, as well as various implementations of the transient panel UI.

Apple's enhanced autocorrect patent application was first filed for in 2012 and credits Mehul K. Sanghavi and Swati J. Deo as its inventors.

Language Changing



Apple's on-the-nose "Automatically changing a language for electronic messages" details an invention that "intelligently" and automatically select a language for creating electronic messages based on data associated with a corresponding contact and user interaction.

According to the document, the system can determine which language to use by scanning a received document to which a user is replying, metadata associated with a particular contact and information about the user. For example, if a received message is determined to be written in Italian, a reply created by the user would bring up an Italian soft keyboard.

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The application points out that an automated system would free the user from having to navigate to a settings menu to manually select a global language or activate a specific keyboard.

In one example, the user receives a message from an unknown sender. Next, either on-board or cloud-based software is used to determine the language in which the message is written. Any number of techniques may be used, though the document specifically mentions MIME and language trees.

Once a language has been recognized, the system will load the proper keyboard to respond. Based on previous interaction with the user and the identified language, the software may request permission to use the new keyboard. Alternatively, the user may decline to use the suggested keyboard manually.

In a second scenario, a user has selected a contact to which they would like to send a message. Depending on language data assigned to that person, perhaps from past messages, the system will bring up a preferred keyboard and ask that a user validate the selection. The user may also manually assign a preferred language to a contact in the globally-accessed address book.

Finally, if multiple recipients are included in a message, and they all share a non-default language, the system will select said language. If data tied to each recipient differs, the phone may ask the user to select a keyboard, or use the default global language.

Apple's automatic language selection patent was first filed for in 2012 and credits Alessandro Pelosi as its inventor.