“Apple on Tuesday was granted a U.S. patent for the graphical user interface used in iOS which changes the ‘hit region’ size of a virtual keyboard’s buttons based on predictive text data,” Mikey Campbell reports for AppleInsider.

“In an elegant solution to the problem of entering text on a mobile device’s small screen, Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,232,973 for a “Method, device, and graphical user interface providing word recommendations for text input” enlarges the effective area of the virtual keyboard’s buttons based on a predictive input system without resizing the visual keyboard asset,” Campbell reports. “For example, a user entering the word ‘ELEPHANT’ would begin by hitting the ‘E’ key followed by the ‘L’ key, the ‘E’ key and so on. The system begins to narrow down what the user is attempting to spell, dynamically increasing the size of the next expected key icon which in this example would be the ‘P’ key. Instead of representing the next key’s larger hit area visually, the keyboard retains its normal size which makes the system completely invisible to the user.”

Campbell reports, “The ‘973 patent most likely leverages technology from Apple’s U.S Patent No. 8,074,172 for a “method, system, and graphical user interface for providing word recommendations” or predictive text.”

More info, including Apple’s patent application illustration, in the full article here.