Apple patent filing hints at improved handwriting recognition in iOS (and perhaps macOS)

Apple has filed for a patent (number 20190012072) for “character recognition on a computing device” that shows the company is working on further improvements to the handwriting tech on iOS devices — and is even considering bringing it to macOS.

In the patent filing, the tech giant notes that user interaction with devices such as computers and other electronic computing devices has increased significantly in recent years. These devices can be computers, tablet computers, televisions, and multimedia devices.

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Interaction with these devices can be performed using various input devices, such as touch screen displays, touch-sensitive surfaces, remote controls, mice and other input devices. Touch-sensitive surfaces and touch screen displays, in particular, have become increasingly popular input devices, as has providing handwritten input using such input devices. 

Apple sys that providing for robust character recognition of handwritten input enhances the user's experience with the device by reducing errors in character input and decreases user interaction time, which is particularly important where input devices are battery-operated. The details in the patent filing are directed to one or more devices that optionally perform character recognition, provide feedback relating to handwritten input, and present a user interface for changing previously-inputted characters.

Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “n some embodiments, a device performs character recognition based on spatial and temporal components of touch input detected on a touch-sensitive surface. In some embodiments, a device provides feedback about handwritten input and its recognition by the device. In some embodiments, a device presents a user interface for changing previously-inputted characters.”

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.