iOS 7 (keyboard 001)

Although Apple’s iOS is known for its gesture-based interface, the iPhone maker is notoriously hesitant about enhancing the virtual keyboard feature. A patent granted Tuesday reveals the company has been considering adopting multitouch keyboard from the moment the iPhone appeared. The patent filing entitled ‘Swipe gestures for touch screen keyboards’ outlines gestures to handle common keyboard tasks, such as deletion, punctuation and more…

The patent “shows Apple is not only open to the idea of buffered virtual QWERTY input, but has been experimenting with the technology since 2007” when the iPhone was introduced, writes AppleInsider.

The technology essentially adapts a reduced subset of the larger iOS multitouch features, using gestures only to operate within the limited confines of a keyboard.

In one example, a single finger swipe to the left would let you delete a mistyped character. A multi-finger swipe could delete an entire word or even the whole line. Other instances would let you swipe up to depress the Shift key, while swiping down would make a lowercase character.


Other keyboard swipes include a multitouch gesture to the right to insert a period and space (actually, that feature is already available simply by hitting the press bar twice). The patent goes into detail how to set the limits for recognizing the movements.

While Apple has been reluctant to allow third-party keyboards access to iOS for fear of security breaches, the patent may indicate the firm is ready to finally give the system keyboard a makeover. In iOS 7, the virtual keyboard incorporates a few advances over its predecessor, including the smarter auto-correct feature.

iOS 7 (Keyboard, Shortcuts 001)iOS 7 (Keyboard, Shortcuts 002)

According to Apple’s job ads, the company is working on  adding additional languages and scripts to the standard iOS keyboard. The iPhone maker held talks with the company behind the popular Swype Android keyboard, but there’re no signs of Apple licensing Swype technology anytime soon.

While gestures are an interesting potential, for industrial-strength keyboardists such as myself, it would do wonders for this feature’s usability if there is an easier way to enter numerical data.

For example, rather than requiring typists to hit the “?123” key, Apple could provide  1-0 along the top row of the virtual keyboard.

  • ✪ aidan harris ✪

    Just to let you know the link attached to the “held talks” hyperlink produces an error 404…

  • Jonathan

    That would be a nice feature for us lazy types. (like me)

  • Butch Danes

    ‘Swipe gestures for touch screen keyboards’

    Hmm, sounds like the jailbreak tweak swipeselection. If it’s going to be like that then that’s yet another “new” feature that isn’t really going to be new if you’re currently using that tweak.

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      I’ve always found problems with Swipeselection. It’s a brilliant jailbreak tweak but I’ve never got it to work in apps that I might actually want and need to use it most in for example Pages. I’m sure if Apple implemented this jailbreak tweak it would be perfect and not have problems such as this.

  • Mohammad Ridwan

    Android had them like 5 years ago… just sayin’…

    • Rowan09

      Had one gesture keyboard? I know they have swype on some Androids but its not an Android thing because Google doesn’t own the company.

      • Charlie Val

        Google’s own keyboard has gesture typing, just like Swype.

      • Rowan09

        Which keyboard? I only see the option for adding swype.

      • Bradley Wyatt

        it’s called “Google Keyboard”

      • Rowan09

        Oh ok but this was making it seem as if Google came up with gesture keyboards when Swift key and Swype already had it. If Apple wants to join the game it’s welcomed in my eyes.

  • Amad

    Y can’t they just make something similar to octopus keyboard that would be nice.

    • Chad Persaud

      BlackBerry owns that patent. Octopus is running through a back channel and isn’t very known. If they are making money off it, they are liable to a lawsuit. Apple would have to pay royalties to use it.

  • Charlie Val

    iOS needs something like Swype or SwiftKey.

    I can’t stand typing on it like a traditional keyboard. So lame.

  • Matt Taylor

    Just add AltKeyboard and SwipeSelection! Problem solved! Perfect iOS Keyboard!

  • Bradley Wyatt

    I love that an earlier article (posted today by IDB) is all about how Apple is always the first to do something and others “Catch up.” when this is well over a couple years old on Android, and Blackberry (not swype)

  • Mike

    SwipeSelection tweak, swipe across keyboard left or right to move the cursor. It should have been included in iOS7

  • anonymous

    swipeselection and another tweak i can’t remember at the moment, are
    totally lame, i used it on iphone 4s, hardly does words perfectly what u
    want to type, on the other hand swype for android is so accurate. and
    why not, swype is made by a big IT company(nuance) specialized in this
    field, on the other hand the cydia tweak is probably made by some pro
    individually so it stands no chance. this kind of typing is advanced for
    touchscreen and its the answer to slow typing due to touch based
    interface. i think apple should work with nuance and just bring swype
    onboard, any other company not required. after all nuance is an
    independent company and not influenced by android makers i think. anyone
    else with me who thinks swipe gesture is the new way to type on

    • mickey

      I personally love swipeselection and it works fine on both my iPhone and iPad. But it is not a keyboard so perhaps you’re confusing it with another tweak. I use swiftkey on my gs4 but don’t use the swipe function, I much prefer using the swipe to delete instead.

      • anonymous

        i just wrote i used swipeselection from the bigboss repo on my iphone 4s and not new to the jailbreak scene, i would never confuse such a silly thing, its the same iphone keyboard, with the swipe on the stock keyboard , dont use swiftkey, just use swype for a week for the sake of argument on your s4 , and then ul get the difference between swype and swipeselection. between pro and amateur. u like the swipe to delete , but ”personally love swipeselection” coz it works fine, im confused. dont say me u use swipeselection to delete also.

      • mickey

        I was just confused that you were comparing swipeselection which provides a gesture/cursor function to swype which is a keyboard with gesture typing. 2 very different applications. I know some people don’t like swipeselection but I don’t think it is totally lame (and so do other commenters here). I used swipe to delete in swiftkey which can only be used if you disable swipe/gesture typing. I thought you mentioned swiftkey. Sorry for the confusion.

        As for swype, I have used it for many many months before switching to swiftkey which I found had a superior prediction/learning engine (especially for non-english languages). I ended up switching back to regular typing after getting the gs4 (the screen was a lot bigger than my previous 4.3″ phone) which was harder for me to “swype” 1 handed. Of course the option is still there but I found I was just as fast. iOS could definitely benefit from accept 3rd party keyboards. So many superior ones out there than the stock one.

      • anonymous

        i think we’re clear now, and i get it that u are not a big fan of swipe based typing coming to big screens(which i think is tough also single handed), and u prefer swipe for deleting on ios, thanks for replying.

  • Question

    I just want swipeselection

  • Apanizo2

    OHHHHH SNAPPP. What’s it called when you can drag your finger across the keyboard …?

  • nyangejr

    apple doesn’t allow third-party keyboards access to iOS for fear of security breaches,
    NO rather do this so it coud make the features its own and notthird party apps ………….. whatever

  • @sexyhamthing

    been done

  • LeePattison

    Alt Keyboard and Swipe Selection = perfect iOS typing if only apple looked to the jailbreak community a bit more, these are two tweaks that would massively help iDevice owners.

  • Tony

    Biggest thing that is needed is a response to touch. When you touch a key it should vibrate. But only in a small way. Hard to explain really but the touch screens need an additional touch layer to accomplish this.

    • Uhm, you mean haptic feedback like Android has been offering for years?

  • There goes the patent troll, doing what it does best; patenting ideas that have already been available on other platforms…