Apple Magic Keyboard could detect which user is typing, and adjust between chiclet and mechanical feel and sound to suit them. Keyboard with adjustable feedback,” is concerned with the design of an adjustable keyboard, but that is specifically for the manufacturer as well as the end user. The feel and sound of the interaction of these parts can be unpredictable and can therefore require iterative design techniques with round after round of new prototypes being ordered, constructed, tested, evaluated, and revised. To experiment with new technologies or new force feedback profiles for key switches, entire prototype keyboards need to be built and delivered. Accordingly, there is a persistent need for various improvements to the implementation of keyboards and related input devices for electronic devices.
- Apple’s latest gaze-detection research could mean that future users may be able to select text input fields in an app or website with just a look. If a website is written correctly, browsers like Safari recognize different types of text input fields. It’s how Safari knows to offer your surname in one, and your email address in another. In each case, though, you must click into that field — or tab from one to the next — for it to know where you are. In future, you won’t. Just looking at, say, the First Name field will be enough to at least pop the cursor there, and probably begin entering text for you. The techniques can be applied to conventional user interfaces on devices such as desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The techniques are also advantageous for virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality devices and applications. Within AR, it would be the headset, such as “Apple Glass,” that performs the gaze detection. It would do it with sensors placed right in the headset, so right next to the eyes. For real-world devices, the iPhone or iPad would need to perform gaze tracking at more of a distance. “In this case rays are cast (e.g. projected) along the visual axes of the left and right eyes of [the] user, respectively,” “and are, optionally, used to determine the user’s gaze direction and/or gaze depth in what is referred to as ray casting.
AI-fueled app Natural aims to bring more benefits of AI and machine learning to machine learning to consumes more directly, starting with a range of streamlined transactions. A request using Natural’s “generative interface” begins similarly enough to those of other voice agents, with a verbal or typed command. With Natural, however, the query remains editable. Natural then instantly updates the options presented. There are no extended spoken exchanges. But the more meaningful difference is the degree to which Natural can handle the completion of the task. With other agents, ordering food or an airline ticket goes only so far before users need to transition to an app such as DoorDash or Expedia. That’s not the case with Natural. In fact, if users want to order from a restaurant that uses Grubhub for delivery and they don’t have an account, Natural will create one behind the scenes, optionally deleting it at the end of the transaction. That may make it sound as if Natural is trying to make apps obsolete, but the company plans to allow other apps to tap into Natural’s AI capabilities. A future version of Natural might be able to share a file via Dropbox and draft a range of emails, including a multi-paragraph cover letter that highlights certain skills in the background. All one has to do is fill in the blanks provided for certain details. Natural lives in the cloud and can be accessed from virtually anywhere after a voice verification.
Nationwide Building Society has begun issuing ‘dot and notch’ embossed and recycled bank cards that are certified by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). The cards are the first to carry the RNIB’s ‘Tried and Tested’ logo. The ‘dot’ feature will enable members to distinguish between credit and debit cards, while the ‘notch’ tells them which way around the card needs to be inserted into card machines and ATMs. The cards, which are made from 85% recycled plastic, will be issued to all members, making them the rule rather than the exception. Nationwide’s ATMs already have audio functionality that can read out the information on screen to help guide those with sight loss.
Amazon has brought Alexa to the iPhone Home Screen with a new widget enabling iOS users to ‘Ask Alexa’ with a single tap. The new version is the closest Alexa users will probably get to native implementation of the assistant on an iOS or iPad OS device. Previously, you’d need to delve into the app itself to talk to Alexa. Interestingly, there’s still no dedicated widget for Siri on the iPhone, aside from the Siri Suggestions functionality that suggests apps based on location and common activity. Siri is accessible by holding the power button and using the hands-free “Hey Siri” voice commands. Alexa, of course, still lacks and will continue to lack that functionality on Apple’s home soil.
- Spotify has introduced the “What’s New” feed, which will deliver an ongoing series of updates to mobile app users focused on new releases. According to the company, the What’s New feed will serve as another way for Spotify users to keep up with all the new music and podcasts that are released from the shows and artists that they follow on the service. In other words, it’s a personalized feed based on what users listen to, not a universal feed or one they more explicitly customize by making specific selections. The feed will be under the new “bell” icon at the top of the home tab alongside the recently played and settings icons on the top right. The feed will be also updated in real-time, Spotify says, and will display a blue dot when there are new songs and episodes that arrived since users last opened the app. While the feature may be useful because it gives a single place to look in the Spotify app for everything that’s new, the use of a “notifications” feature that leverages dots is also a psychological trick that can make apps more addictive. This seemingly minor addition to the Spotify app is actually a quite calculated one. Spotify, with the launch of a more attention-grabbing notifications feature, it wants to increase user engagement, even if it understands that it may be sacrificing some sense of user comfort and enjoyment in the process.