Last week, Apple filed a new patent application with the US Patent & Trademark Office. The patent app reveals one of the next chapters for Apple's iBooks -- designed to make reading books, especially children's books, more interactive.
For children's books, Apple has devised a number of new gesture options to make reading more fun and interactive.
One such gesture will allow a child to tap on a word and have an associated picture, animation or video pop-up to make that word come to life. For those learning a foreign language, Apple has devised a gesture to have a word present itself in the student's native language so as to quicken the learning process. Apple's ideas also seem to cross over to electronic magazines where tapping on certain words could pop up a related widget.
For example, when reading a financial magazine article on Apple, tapping on its NASDAQ symbol would automatically open a financial widget showing Apple's current stock price.
Apple's patent application describes systems, methods, and techniques for interacting with text displayed on a touch screen, such as text in an electronic book ("ebook" or in Apple's case, "iBook"). Apple states that by interacting with the text, a user will be able to obtain information related to the content of the text.
Today, an iBook could present readers with a simple options bar with Dictionary/Highlight/Note and Search as noted in the graphic above. But the next chapter for iBook will go far beyond the basics.
Apple states that future iBooks will allow users to call up images, animations, interactive content and video content to provide a better understanding of a word, phrase or item and so forth. Additionally, a reader will be able to have portions of the text read to them if they so choose.
This could be a very handy tool for those trying to learn another language, for example, as it will also be able to present readers with "grammatical information" about a portion of text or present the source or history of portions of the text as well as pronunciation.
Another contemplated feature will allow a user to press and hold a beginning and last word in a phrase which will invoke the presentation of media content regarding the phrase as shown below.
For example, a double- finger swipe in adult books could bring up images or audible information. And the most interesting bit: "Apple will give readers the ability to assign gestures like swipe, press-and-hold, tap, double-tap, flick, pinch, multiple finger tap, multiple finger press-and-hold and finally press-and-slide - to control the way information is presented to them".
Other parts of the patent application included Apple proposing things like interactive games that pop up if you select a particular word in iBooks such as, for example, "soccer". You could also touch the name of a song and have the music for that song start playing. Even touching a "+" sign could bring up a calculator application under Apple's patent proposal.