New Blackberry patent could be filed under 'annoying'

Summary:Russell Shaw flags a monstrous U.S. patent application by Research in Motion that outlines plans to bring a lot of autoformatting features to the Blackberry.

Russell Shaw flags a monstrous U.S. patent application by Research in Motion that outlines plans to bring a lot of autoformatting features to the Blackberry.

File this patent under "annoying." While Russell notes RIM's patent is designed to cut back on keystrokes--more like thumb strokes--and auto format certain inputs. It all sounds very Microsoft Word-ish.  

There's a reason I'm writing this post in Notepad--Microsoft Word autoformats everything. Smart quotes? Hate them. Completing sentences? Word stinks. Aside from spell check I'm not sure what Microsoft Word is good for.

Now RIM is going down the same path. A few excerpts compiled by Russell:

  • Another embodiment of the user interface engine is the "autopunctuation" feature of the device. If the user enters one of a number of predefined character sequences, the user interface engine will automatically insert a period (full stop) in the user input field.
  • Another embodiment of the user interface engine is the "intelligent character substitution" feature of the device. In fields designed for certain types of input, the user interface engine will automatically substitute appropriate characters if inappropriate characters are entered.
  • The first embodiment of the autotext engine provides an application service for error correction and phrase substitution.

Those aforementioned items scare the hell out of me. Part of the appeal of emails sent via Blackberry is the brevity and thumbish punctuation--or lack of it. Now RIM is going to make mobile email look more professional by correcting us nonstop.

RIM assures us that "all automatic formatting features of the user interface and autotext engines such as autocapitalization, autopunctuation and phrase substitution may be overridden."

Let's hope there's an easy override included. After all, I could undo all the autoformatting in Microsoft Word too, but I'd prefer to use Notepad, which didn't use all that mumbo jumbo in the first place.

Topics: BlackBerry

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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