Apple patent filing involves a ‘remote keyboard service’ for the Apple TV

Apple has filed for a patent (number 20190050146) for “providing a remote keyboard service” for the Apple TV.

In the patent filling, Apple notes that streaming media devices [such as the Apple TV] are becoming increasingly popular. They allow you to browse, search, and watch media content on demand. 

Apple says that, however, the input mechanisms for these streaming media devices are often simple remote controls without keyboards that require a user to hunt and select individual text characters when entering a search query into a text input control (e.g., text input box). This makes the process of providing textual input to these streaming media devices can be burdensome to the user. 

Keyboard patent.jpg

Apple says some streaming media devices have a corresponding application by which a, user can provide text input using a virtual keyboard on the user's handheld device (e.g., smartphone, tablet computer, etc.). However, the user must install and invoke the application before being able to use the virtual keyboard to provide text input to the streaming media device. 

Apple thinks that’s too time-consuming. Basically, it wants your Apple TV to automatically send a message to your Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch indicating that a text input field on the TV set-top box is selected and present a notification to the user prompting the user to invoke the virtual keyboard on the computing device to provide text input to the selected text input field. 

The macOS, iOS, or watchOS device can receive user input selecting the notification and present a virtual keyboard for providing text input to the Apple TV. The computing device can receive keyboard input from the user selecting characters and send the characters to the other device. Whether or not this would truly be easier than just installing a remote control/keyboard app is questionable to me, but, if the patent ever results in a real solution, we’ll see.

Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “The systems described herein provide a remote keyboard service for a media device on a computing device without having to invoke an application or unlock the computing device. The computing device can receive a message indicating that a text input field on the other device is selected and present a notification to the user prompting the user to invoke the virtual keyboard on the computing device to provide text input to the selected text input field. 

“The computing device can receive user input selecting the notification and present a virtual keyboard for providing text input to the other device. The computing device can receive keyboard input from the user selecting characters and send the characters to the other device. The other device can then user the characters as text input to the selected text input field.”