Patent hints that the iPhone could one day have built-in handwriting recognition

It looks like it’s time for some new Apple patents. Just last week, we reported that Apple had filed patents indicating it might steal the Google Pixel 2’s squeeze features. Now, the company has filed another patent — this time for a handwriting recognition system that could be used in multiple languages and a range of different apps — and could one day make it into the iPhone.

There are already handwriting recognition apps for the iPad, but what’s notable about this particular patent is that it could be built straight into iOS, meaning that you could use handwriting recognition as part of the iOS keyboard in any app. In particular, it seems like the technology is targeted at users in Asian or Arab countries, where there are more characters in languages, something that may make typing uncomfortable or inefficient.

As the patent notes, while handwriting algorithms have been getting better, they still need some work. Particularly, there’s a lot of variability in different people’s handwriting styles, which can make it difficult for algorithms to properly detect what’s being written. On top of that, the patent application notes that many countries are multilingual — and as such, users may need to switch between languages often. For example, someone in China might need to write a movie title in English. Manually switching languages on a software keyboard can be difficult.

Apple’s system, however, could make handwriting recognition a little better. Apple describes training the system with writing samples, meaning that it could get better at detecting handwriting as time goes on. The same system is used for detecting handwriting in all languages, so if you switch between languages while you’re writing, it should be able to properly pick it up.

It would certainly be interesting to see a system like this launch on iOS. For starters, either the system would only be available on newer iPad models, or Apple would have to open up Apple Pencil support for the iPhone. The third option is that users would have to “handwrite” with their finger, though that could get a little frustrating and inefficient. It’s possible that Apple won’t ever use the patent at all — the company routinely files for patents that it doesn’t use. It’s important to note, however, that this patent is a continuation of patents that date back to 2013, so the company has clearly been thinking about the tech for some time.

Mobile

New Apple patent hints clamshell-style foldable phone may be in the works

Apple has filed a patent for a foldable phone that suggests the company could be following in the footsteps of the likes of Samsung and Huawei. The patent describes a clamshell-style foldable phone with two separate sections.
Mobile

New rumors suggest the iPhone 2019 will continue to use Lightning over USB-C

While it's not been long since the last iPhones launched, rumors for the next iPhone are already surfacing. Apple's 2019 flagship could include a variety of upgrades ranging from a new design to enhanced features.
Computing

Lost without 'Print Screen'? Here's how to take a screenshot on a Chromebook

Chrome OS has a number of built-in screenshot options, and can also be used with Chrome screenshot extensions for added flexibility. You have a lot of options, but learning how to take a screenshot on a Chromebook is easy.
Cars

Will Apple sell its Touch ID and Face ID technology to automakers?

Recent patent filings suggest Apple wants its Touch ID and Face ID technologies to spread across the automotive industry. The company outlined how motorists could use their finger or their face to unlock their car.
Mobile

Xiaomi Mi 9 will be one of the first phones with monster Snapdragon 855 chip

Xiaomi's next major smartphone release will be the Mi 9, and the company hasn't held back in giving us a good look at the phone, revealing the design, the camera, and a stunning color.
Wearables

Galaxy Watch Active isn't official yet, but you can see it in Samsung's own app

Samsung may be about to resurrect its Sport line of smartwatches under a new name: The Galaxy Watch Sport Active. Leaks and rumors are building our picture of the device at the moment.
Wearables

Focals succeed where Google Glass fumbled (but do we really need smartglasses?)

It’s been seven years since Google took the wraps off Google Glass. Now, we’re finally getting a modern-day equivalent we want to wear. North’s Focals combine subtle style with an intuitive interface to craft smartglasses you’ll…
Mobile

Stop buying old tablets, says Samsung, buy the new Galaxy Tab S5e instead

Samsung has launched the Galaxy Tab S5e -- the E is for Essential -- a reasonably priced tablet that includes many of the features we like from the Tab A 10.5, and the Tab S4. Here's what you need to know.
Mobile

Bag yourself a bargain with the best budget tablets under $200

The battle for your budget tablet affections is really ramping up. Which tablet, costing less than $200, should be commanding your attention? We take a look at some different options for the budget-conscious.
Computing

What is Wi-Fi 6? Here's a look at the next evolution of the wireless standard

We're exploring the new naming convention for wireless standards, how it affects the devices you buy, and what the upcoming Wi-Fi generation is changing for the better.
Home Theater

Samsung accidentally leaks its new Galaxy Buds ahead of launch

It's been all but certain that Samsung would launch a successor to its Gear IconX wireless earbuds soon, but a newly leaked photo and recent FCC certification document seems to indicate that the debut is very close.
Home Theater

Hi-res streaming audio service Qobuz arrives in U.S., threatens Tidal’s monopoly

For several years, Tidal enjoyed a monopoly on hi-res music streaming in the U.S. Now, French company Qobuz is here to offer some competition with a variety of monthly plans starting at $10 a month.
Mobile

These 13 gadgets walk a fine line between ingenious and insane

The annual avalanche of devices and gadgets is astounding, but how many will succeed? A few are destined to spark new trends, while the majority fade deservedly into obscurity. We look at some gadgets on the border of brilliant and bonkers.
Mobile

OnePlus 6T vs. Honor View 20: We compare the cameras in these ‘flagship killers’

For less than $600, you can buy either the OnePlus 6T or the Honor View 20, two extremely capable smartphones with plenty of exciting features. But which one has the best camera? We found out on a recent trip to France.