Apple eyes keyboard management for a multifunction device
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Apple eyes keyboard management for a multifunction device

An Apple patent (number 8274536) for smart keyboard management for a multifunction device with a touch screen display has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, a method is performed at a multifunction device with a touch screen display. The method includes displaying a text entry interface with a soft keyboard in a first area and a viewing area with a first size to display scrollable information. The method detects a finger gesture on the viewing area, and responds to the gesture.

When the viewing area displays only a portion of the information, the response includes: (1) ceasing to display the soft keyboard, (2) expanding the viewing area to a second size, including at least some of the first area, and (3) scrolling the information in the expanded viewing area. When the viewing area with the first size displays all of the information, the response includes: (1) maintaining display of the soft keyboard, (2) keeping the viewing area at the first size, and (3) moving the information in the viewing area based on the finger gesture.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Multifunction devices with touch screen displays may utilize a soft keyboard on the display to facilitate text entry. A typical soft keyboard is an image on the display showing letters or other symbols, and may be arranged like the keys of an ordinary keyboard or typewriter. A user may use a finger to "press" the buttons on a soft keyboard, thus entering text or performing other actions.

"One difficulty with a soft keyboard is that it occupies space on the display. This is particularly problematic when the touch screen is small, such as the screen on some portable handheld devices. The space occupied by the soft keyboard is not available for other objects or applications, such as information content, graphics, or interactive controls (e.g., buttons).

"When a touch screen display has scrollable information, the presence of a soft keyboard can increase the time it takes to scroll to desired information. For example, each swipe to scroll the information is smaller, thus requiring more swipes to scroll the necessary amount.

"Accordingly, there is a need for multifunction devices that optimize a touch screen display by displaying or hiding a soft keyboard based on user actions. Such methods and interfaces may complement or replace conventional methods for displaying or hiding a soft keyboard. Such methods and interfaces reduce the cognitive burden on a user and produce a more efficient human-machine interface. For battery-operated multifunction devices, such methods and interfaces conserve power and increase the time between battery charges."

The inventors are Imran Chaudhri and Bas Ording.

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