The patent-filing machine otherwise known as Apple has filed two patents relating to text messaging -- one to provide an option to fix auto-correct text message mistakes before sending, and the other to automatically switch to an expected language. The patents were published Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, at the customary publication point 18 months after a patent is filed.
The auto-correct patent, #20140040773, is entitled "Transient Panel Enabling Message Correction Capabilities Prior Submission" and was filed July 31, 2012. It describes a "programmable device" like a smartphone that offers a user an opportunity for final corrections to an auto-corrected text message, after the user has requested that the text is sent but before it actually is. If the opportunity for one last correction is not taken, the text is sent unaltered.
While auto-correct systems have been around for quite a while, the patent notes that it has "shortcomings." Top among them is that current auto-correct systems are based on valid grammar and spelling, which are not often present in the shorthand of text messages.
The patent notes that "nearly every sender of a text message has discovered an error in the message only after sending the message, such as when an unnoticed auto-correction or auto-completion has changed a word to something unintended, usually changing the meaning of the message completely." Auto-correction in those cases did its work without giving the user a chance to catch the auto-corrected mistake.
It pointed out that this unintentional humor is the subject of "entire Web sites." One of the most popular of these sites is http://www.damnyouauto-correct.com/.
Although it contains the usual long-winded patent-ese, the document appears to indicate that the real innovation is simply that the user has an opportunity to fix the mistakes they, or the existing auto-correct process, has committed. This review gate can be set up or not via an option in Settings, providing a second chance before being embarrassed.
The system described in the patent includes a countdown timer for fixing the message before it is sent, as well as a menu with options to fix the errors, reject the message, or accept it as it currently exists and send it. If "fix errors" is chosen, a "transient panel" shows suggestions for corrections. The system could also learn which corrections a user most often chooses, so it can auto-correct earlier in the process for frequently mistyped words.
The user can also compose and store a variety of messages, checking them over and then sending them when the time is appropriate.
The other patent, #20140039874, is "Automatically Changing a Language for Electronic Messages." It describes a system where automatic language switching could be triggered by a received message, by language normally used by the recipient, or by language usually associated with the user.
Thus, if you receive a message in Spanish, you would automatically be provided with a Spanish-language keyboard, auto-corrector and dictionary for your reply. This auto-language feature could be overridden if so desired.