The accompanying images certainly hint that this is the outline for the eagerly anticipated Apple Tablet.
The presence of a pen-based input system seems somewhat at odds with Apple use of finger-based input in its iPhone and iPod touch devices.
In fact, Steve Jobs pushed the lack of stylus as a major feature upon the iPhone launch stating: "We have invented a new technology called multi-touch. It works like magic, you don't need a stylus, and it's far more accurate than any interface ever shipped".
However, the ability to control input to a more granular level using a stylus or pen-style input would be a boon to a larger device with a more business and creative task-orientated purpose.
The ability to sketch out diagrams, and work closely on images, plus handwriting recognition and note-taking capabilities would take the device beyond the operation offered by the iPhone.
Any tablet device from Apple would almost certainly also support the multi-touch finger-based input developed by Apple for the iPhone and extended to its laptop and desktop range (via the multi-touch trackpad and Magic Mouse, respectively).
Is this the patent for the long-awaited Apple Tablet? It certainly looks that way.
Long-term Apple aficionados may well raise eyebrows at any similarity of the device to the Apple Newton, the product that Steve Jobs famously canned upon returning to the helm at Apple.
The Apple Tablet is expected to launch early next year. Apple famously does not talk about products in development and has yet to confirmed the device.
The patent was filed on 17 July 2009. The abstract follows:
METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR ACQUIRING AND ORGANIZING INK INFORMATION IN PEN-AWARE COMPUTER SYSTEMS
An ink manager running at a computer system receives ink information entered at a pen-based input/display device and accumulates the ink information into ink strokes.
The ink manager communicates with a handwriting recognition engine and includes an ink phrase termination engine that is configured to detect the occurrence of one or more ink phrase termination events by examining the ink information.
Upon the occurrence of an ink phrase termination event, the ink manager notifies the handwriting recognition engine and organizes the preceding ink strokes into an ink phrase data structure.
The ink manager may also pass the ink phrase to an application executing on the computer system that is associated with the ink information, and it, in response, may return a reference pointer and a recognition context to the ink manager.
The reference pointer and recognition context are then appended to the ink phrase data structure.
Utilizing the recognition context identified by the application, the handwriting recognition engine generates one or more hypotheses for the ink phrase, and provides them to the ink manager.
The ink manager forwards the hypotheses together with die reference pointer to the application and may also append them to the ink phrase data structure.