Apple Looks to Streamline Clarification of Awkward Autocorrect Messages in New Patent Application

The United States Patent and Trademark Office recently published a new patent application originally filed by Apple last July, detailing a system in which the receiver of an iMessage could be notified when pieces of the message are scrambled incoherently by the company's autocorrect system (via AppleInsider). The patent isn't a proactive solution to enhance the sometimes spotty nature of autocorrect, but simply a way to let the person on the other end of the text know what's happening, and give each user tools to better explain what they meant.

Apple describes a new user interface that would highlight any words or phrases in a message that have been siphoned through autocorrect. The system wouldn't be advanced enough to reveal the specifically intentioned words the sender meant, but at least give the receiver a heads up about which parts of the text were corrected.

autocorrect patent 1
A design of the sender-side UI

Parts of the patent reveal iterations of the idea that can streamline the clarification process, as well. For example, a description of the sender-side user interface includes a prompt that pops up -- after a user taps on the autocorrected word -- with an option to "Send clarification" to the receiver. The canned message fills out the phrase, "I sent [wrong word], but I meant [correct word]." If they want a complete do-over, the user could also just opt to re-send the entire message.

autocorrect patent 2
A design of the receiver-side UI

On the receiver-side user interface, if the sender isn't opting to fix the issue themselves, the other person can "Request clarification" by tapping on the highlighted autocorrect word or phrase. The automated message is similar to the previous sender-side phrase, asking "You sent [wrong word]. What did you mean?"

If implemented in a future version of iOS, the autocorrect highlight patent could be similar to the way iOS currently underscores vague references to dates and times when users send and receive text messages. Apple's new patent could be slightly more helpful for most users than that feature, however, especially given the speed with which iPhone users have grown accustomed to texting on the device, and how frustrating it can be to realize autocorrect interfered with your message.

Like most patents, it's still advised to be wary of how long it'll take Apple to implement the autocorrect notification system into iOS, if it ever will. Still, it's easy to see how useful and streamlined such a feature could be, without completely taking out much of the humorous -- and sometimes awkward -- mishaps for which autocorrect has become famous.

Tag: patent


Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
44 months ago
Yey better autocorrect, it works most of the tomatoes.
Rating: 22 Votes
Avatar
44 months ago
I feel that it would be vastly simpler to just fix autocorrect. I think if they fixed these two things, it would do away with 99% of false corrections by autocorrect:

#1: When I type a word that includes a capital in it, and it isn't the the first letter of the sentence, don't touch it. Ever. It's a name or trademark or something - it isn't ordinary English, leave it alone.

#2: When I type a valid English word, leave it alone. I don't care that it's statistically improbable that it's what I meant or whatever. AFAIK, I have never mistakenly typed one valid English word but meant another.

I remember making this suggestion when I was using my first iPhone, the 3GS, 7 years ago. I was so sure that Apple would swiftly fix it. Here we are, 7 years later with iOS 9, and autocorrect still sucks just as badly as it did then.
Rating: 10 Votes
Avatar
44 months ago
Sounds like a ducking awesome idea for iMessage!
Rating: 7 Votes
Avatar
44 months ago
Autocorrect really sucks when you are bilingual, sometimes I deliberately type words in a different language but it autocorrects, it shouldn't do that when you have more than 1 keyboard language on your phone, or even on OS X.
Rating: 6 Votes
Avatar
44 months ago

Um, no. I don't have that problem. I don't press my finger in the same spot when I mean different letters, so I don't mix up top or too (because there's an o right before the letter that could be mixed up).

I definitely don't type letters in the wrong order and end up with no when I meant on or vice versa.

I could imagine there are some situations where autocorrect's current behavior is better than its behavior if you make the changes I proposed, but they seem exceedingly rare to me.


Wow I've never meet someone who never makes a mistake while typing. You must be an amazing typist or type so slow that its impossible to make a mistake. Some words I type so fast from muscle memory I'll mix up the characters, even in my own name.
Rating: 6 Votes
Avatar
44 months ago

I feel that it would be vastly simpler to just fix autocorrect. I think if they fixed these two things, it would do away with 99% of false corrections by autocorrect:

#1: When I type a word that includes a capital in it, and it isn't the the first letter of the sentence, don't touch it. Ever. It's a name or trademark or something - it isn't ordinary English, leave it alone.

#2: When I type a valid English word, leave it alone. I don't care that it's statistically improbable that it's what I meant or whatever. AFAIK, I have never mistakenly typed one valid English word but meant another.

Seriously. Those are my same top two recommendations. They seem so ridiculously obvious to anyone and everyone 5 minutes into typing on an iPhone that I'll forever be flabbergasted that it's not how it works. There must be a hard-headed Senior VP somewhere who just flat put his foot down, insisting the functionality remain stupid, despite every underling and QA in Apple telling him it's broken.

My number three: If you replace a word I typed with a Capitalized word, and I backspace it because autocorrect was wrong, don't preserve the damn capitalization. It's so annoying trying to fix both the miscorrection and the miscapitalization. In fact, I don't think capitalized words should even be a valid replacement for my typo'd word unless I spelled it exactly correctly and merely lacked the capitalization. Or my typo was itself capitalized, explicitly indicating that I want it corrected to a capitalized word.
Rating: 5 Votes
Avatar
44 months ago
I usually turn off autocorrect.

This is my thinking - I would rather send the right word spelled wrong than the wrong word spelled right.

The former just looks like the typo, whereas the latter could entirely change the meaning of the sentence.
Rating: 5 Votes
Avatar
44 months ago
It would be better if clarification corrected the original message. But there're no real UI and UX designers at Apple now, only managers... Or they are suppressed by managers...
Rating: 4 Votes
Avatar
44 months ago
If there's one thong a butt auto core act. Is that is sure Cañada be frustrating
Sent from my iPhone
Rating: 4 Votes
Avatar
44 months ago
Can they just remove "ducking" all together? That'd fix everything.
Rating: 3 Votes
[ Read All Comments ]