Google has patented a new way of using shortcuts from your smart phone. And it's pretty clever.
Here's how it works. You write a letter that you've assigned to go to a website or carry out a set action, then, without breaking the stroke, you draw a circle round the text or image you want to apply that action to, Pocketnow reports. So in the example above, if you wanted to look up some text on Wikipedia, you'd write the W, circle the text, and hey presto.
Similarly, drawing a G followed by circling would look up said text on Google. Makes sense.
The US Patent & Trademark Office revealed the patent this week, though Google filed it on 17 August last year, according to the site.
It's certainly a step on from current gesture inputs. And it definitely beats a long press followed by selecting from a drop-down menu. That's provided it works, of course. Pocketnow raises the point that the phone might have difficulty distinguishing between drawing an I and scrolling down. So it's early days, but it looks interesting. And it could be implemented on the Jelly Bean build of Android when it rolls out this summer.
Such minutiae as the method of unlocking a handset has been the subject of heated lawsuits. Apple recently won a case against Motorola concerning the slide-to-unlock feature, and it's seeking to ban the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android for the same reason. Apple is also claiming patent infringement for clicking a phone number to call, searching everything on the device through a single interface, as well as predictive text.
This circling method of gesture input would be something to differentiate Android from iOS. Presuming Apple doesn't implement something similar first, of course.
Would you like to see it on phones? Let me know in the comments below, or over on Facebook.